WASHINGTON (BP)–Sen. Jesse Helms, a North Carolina Republican and a former Boy Scout, has introduced an amendment to pending congressional legislation to force public schools receiving federal funds to give the Boy Scouts of America equal access to school facilities, CNSNews.com reported May 15.
Helms also asked the Congressional Research Service to examine how many school districts have taken “hostile action” against the Scouts because of membership guidelines that exclude homosexuals.
In a message to the Senate May 14, Helms condemned public school districts that forbid the Boy Scouts from using their facilities for Scout meetings. “These very same meeting places at school remain open to over 800 Gay-Straight Student Alliance Clubs,” Helms noted. “With groups like these welcomed in our public schools, schoolchildren need to have the Boy Scouts stick around.”
Helms said his amendment gives federal civil rights enforcers in the Department of Education the authority to investigate any discriminatory action taken against the Scouts based on their membership or leadership criteria.
Public schools that “adamantly refuse” to provide the Scouts equal access to school facilities — despite warnings — would risk a cutoff in federal funding, Helms said.
“The arrogant discriminatory treatment of Boys Scouts of America must not be allowed to continue,” he said.
Last year the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Boy Scouts’ constitutional right as a private organization to set its own membership rules. The ruling outraged homosexual rights advocates, who wanted the court to force the Scouts to accept homosexuals as members and leaders.
The organization steadfastly refuses to do so, saying that homosexuality goes against the grain of the oath that all Scouts must take: “On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country, and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.”
Jones is the morning editor with CNSNews.com. Used by permission.