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New Twist on School Access

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This article:


describes a situation in San Diego in which Boy and Girl Scout units that were previously allowed to meet in schools for free now must pay a fee. What makes it a new twist is that this comes not as a result of a challenge by the ACLU, but because of a challenge by the Good News Club, an evangelical Christian group that was getting charged while other groups were not. The school system responded by deciding to charge fees to groups that are meeting for "pure speech" or to further a point of view. Other groups, like youth sports leagues and senior citizens groups, will still be able to meet for free. I question whether this is an appropriate distinction, either, but I supposed if pushed again, they could simply charge everybody, except maybe the PTA.



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I think you are right about charging everyone. A lot of the schools systems nationwide are charging everyone that is cponsidered an outside group. Including all those that this article says is excluded from paying. Money is tight for schools all over. In our district if you have meeting in HS its free beause there are custodians there 6 days a week anyway. If you go to the elemntary schools after 7pm you have to pay becuase there is no custodians, that rule applies to everyone.

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Our unit meets at our CO (a church) so of course we are not charged. For years we also hosted the monthly district roundtable as well as training sessions, until last year when the church realized that those meetings were not for us - their chartered unit - but were for "some other" scout group. When the church decided to charge a users fee, the district decided to move elsewhere.

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I think Merlyn might point out that the school is treating all religious organizations in the same manner.


It sounds like they are drawing a difference between organizations that restrict membership versus those that are inclusive and open to all children.

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No, this isn't based on membership discrimination, but rather on viewpoint. Remember, the Girl Scouts don't have the same membership issues, and they're affected just as Boy Scouts. And it's not sex discrimination, because they let Pop Warner football in.

To give Merlyn his due, he has always said that he has no problem with equal access. I'm not sure exactly what to make of this distinction between groups with a viewpoint and those that supposedly don't have one, like youth sports leagues. I don't see it, myself.

Again, though, if you fight it, you're probably just making the youth leagues pay too, and I'm not sure that would be worth the effort.

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I'm not a lawyer, I didn't even sleep at a Holiday Inn last night, but this sounds like a violation of Section 9525 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended by Section 901 of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The act states


"... no public elementary school, public secondary school, local educational agency, or State educational agency that has a designated open forum or a limited public forum and that receives funds made available through the Department shall deny equal access or a fair opportunity to meet to, or discriminate against, any group officially affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America".


Any scouter in San Diego who has lost a meeting place can contact the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights at:


San Francisco Office

Office for Civil Rights

U.S. Department of Education

Old Federal Building

50 United Nations Plaza, Room 239

San Francisco, CA 94102-4102

Telephone: 415-556-4275

FAX: 415-437-7783; TDD: 877-521-2172


The rest of us can argue about it below. To point out the difference between access and sponsorship I also want to include the following section of the same law.


"Nothing in this section shall be construed to require any school, agency, or a school served by an agency to sponsor any group officially affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America"

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