Tuesday, August 03, 2004

School board ban against Boy Scout flyers is called illegal

A new Montgomery County Public School ban against the Boy Scouts from sending flyers home in kids' backpacks is illegal and must be rescinded, a Scout leader says.

Matthew J. Budz of the Boy Scouts National Capital Area Council says the ban violates the Boy Scouts of America Equal Access Act. That federal law says that no public schools or local educational entities may "discriminate against any group affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America."

School Superintendent Jerry Weast "could not be reached for comment," according to the Washington Times.

"We would prefer to resolve these issues through dialogue so that all nonprofits are allowed," Budz told the Times, adding that the Boy Scouts are exploring many options.

Only one member of the Board of Education, Walter N. Lange, voted not to ban the Boy Scouts. The rest of the board - President Sharon W. Cox, Vice President Patricia O'Neill, and members Kermit V. Burnett, Charles Haughey, Henry Lee, Gabe Romero and Sagar Sanghvi voted to censor the Boy Scouts.

Local Scout leaders know that the board's real motive is to punish the Boy Scouts for not allowing practicing homosexual adults to have access to boys.

School board members did little to dispel that concern. "We were concerned about what was going home in our children's backpacks because some organizations were more abusive than others," said O'Neill. "You don't want to kill too many trees by Xeroxing excessive amounts of fliers."

Scout leaders are worried that the ban will harm the organization. "We line up with the same mission as the Montgomery County's schools — teaching character, physical fitness and values. That is our foundation," said Budz. "And if we are denied access, our membership will see a decline because our main means of communicating with parents and youth is through backpack mail."