Friday, October 19, 2007

Philly To Increase Rent Because
Of Boy Scout’s Anti-Gay Policy

Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, wants to increase the yearly rent of a building the Boy Scout’s have been using since 1928 from $1 to $200,000 because the private organization refuses to allow gays and atheists.

After a 2000 Supreme Court ruling declaring that the Boy Scouts of America are allowed not to induct gays and atheists because it’s a private organization, the City of Philadelphia decided that it could not legally lease land to a group that discriminates.

However, in 2005 the city’s prior solicitor helped the Boy Scouts’ Philadelphia branch, called the Cradle of Liberty Council, to adopt an “unlawful discrimination” policy.

Now the city’s openly-gay current solicitor Romulo L. Diaz Jr. has determined that the policy is “not clear enough,” according to Cradle of Liberty spokesman Jeff Jubelirer in an interview with FOX News. Jubelirer went on to say that since the 2005 policy, no one has reported any discrimination.

But according to Diaz, Philadelphia City Mayor John Street, City Council and a commission that overseas historical properties has been asking the local Boy Scouts to create a clearer anti-discrimination policy.

And Stacey Sobel, executive director of Equality Advocates Pennsylvania, told Philadelphia’s City Paper, “We’re concerned with the message it sends if taxpayer dollars are supporting discrimination.”

The city says that $200,000 is a fair market price, but Jubelirer told the Philadelphia Inquirer that price “would have to come from programs. That's 30 new Cub Scout packs, or 800 needy kids going to our summer camp.”

While I believe that a private organization or company should be allowed to make any rules it wishes, I think it’s unfair that the Boy Scouts of America won’t allow gays and atheists. Any boy who wants to learn how to be a good American and to learn how to serve his community and country better should be allowed in, despite his sexual preference or non-religious beliefs.

However, it’s not right that the City of Philadelphia decided to campaign against 64,000 boys who have no control over the organization’s enrollment policies. If the city feels the need to make a political statement on acceptance, there are better ways of going about it then kicking thousands of kids out of a building that has been used for nearly 80 years.

For instance, the city could have held a tolerance fair and invited the Boy Scouts. Or maybe Philadelphia and the Boy Scouts could have created a merit badge of acceptance.

The City of Philadelphia is having a hard time right now with kids joining gangs or doing drugs. But charging the local Boy Scouts $200,000 a year because they don’t accept certain groups, even though they have adopted a non-discrimination policy, is asinine. That money can go towards helping kids get off the streets and teach them how to be more community-minded.

It’s time Philadelphia earns a merit badge in priorities.