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Scoutfish

1st Amendment and BSA

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EV,

 

You are so correct. Merlyn most likely sees himself as enlightened, intelligent, and tolerant whereas those how disagree with him are the antithesis of these. He is of course not correct and has shown himself to be angry and intolerant. He is certainly able to twist arguments in a masterful way for which I give him credit but when applied to him, he gets angry. He is certainly passionate about meddling in others affairs. His disdain for those who do not share his views are palpable. He spends an inordinate amount of time looking up things to argue which could be spent helping others instead of damaging youth programs far from his home because of imagined harm. He is angry with his maker and will not find peace until he resolves his anger.

 

 

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I don't know why the number isn't zero, I'm not in charge.

 

I don't have a problem with scout groups meeting at a school, but I certainly wish the remaining 15 or so would straighten out their charter partner situation if for no other purpose than for YOU to have no argument here.

 

 

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Hey vol_scouter, I notice you have time to continue to disparage me, but still you haven't managed to quote ANYTHING I've written that supports this statement of yours: "You are not interested in preventing the abuse of First Amendment guarantees except to outlaw public religious expression. "

 

So I'll continue to call you a liar.

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The bottom line is that the school cannot endorse any group that restricts membership based on religion.

 

Yah, but da question is "What constitutes endorsement?", eh?

 

All that we have by way of binding precedent refers to when school officials or youth-contact employees lead religious-based groups for students during their "on the clock" time, or when schools use captive-audience gatherings of the entire student body for prayer.

 

Seems like having outside volunteers provide programming to serve a self-selected group of children is fundamentally different. With no district dollars and no district staff involved, it's hard to make a case for entanglement, eh?

 

School policy in most districts clearly states that the school will not disciminate based on certain protected categories, and religion is included in most of them. So even if the 1st amendment wasn't the issue, the school has to follow it's own policy.

 

Yah, but the school board sets the policy, and can overrule it in either the particular or the general case, eh? Generally speakin', school boards aren't bound by their own policies any more than congress is bound by its own procedural rules. They can always be dispensed with.

 

If a group doesn't allow non-christians to join it cannot meet at school.

 

This at least is simply not true. Might be da practice in your school district, but if it is they're playin' fast and loose with the rules and can get themselves in trouble. Religious groups and particularly scouts are governed by equal-access laws at the very least. If your district allows any outside groups at all (including PTOs, the teachers' union, etc.) to meet at school, then they must allow scouts to meet at school, at least if they're receivin' federal dollars.

 

Exclusivity based on a suspect class has significant weight in a discrimination complaint, but it may be balanced by other factors when those factors demonstrate that a policy serves a public purpose. So, for example, school districts and public alternative education programs frequently offer infant caregiving classes to young mothers which exclude all male students. Da public interest in having young mothers learn how to care for infants is significant, and the importance of creating a classroom environment where they can share and ask questions in a supportive environment substantially serves that public purpose and therefore is considered legal.

 

Issues for township services are a bit different than education stuff, eh? Even so, affirmative action programs (discrimination in government services and access based on race) have been upheld, as have programs which benefit all religious groups (tax-free status and tax deductible donations), and educational programs which specifically target suspect classes (like math/science programs aimed at girls to decrease the "gender gap" in math/science learning).

 

Fuzzy questions, fuzzy law. Non-discrimination statutes tends toward overbroad declarations which then need to be fixed in the case law to do stuff that just makes sense.

 

Beavah

 

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"If a group doesn't allow non-christians to join it cannot meet at school. "

 

This at least is simply not true

 

Got a cite for that Beavah? The federal Equal Access Act only says that all groups must be treated equally. If ALL groups are required to not discriminate, that's equal treatment.

 

So, for example, school districts and public alternative education programs frequently offer infant caregiving classes to young mothers which exclude all male students.

 

Got any examples of that? They actually exclude expectant fathers?

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Got a cite for that Beavah? The federal Equal Access Act only says that all groups must be treated equally. If ALL groups are required to not discriminate, that's equal treatment.

 

20 USC 7905, 34 CFR 108.

 

Your interpretation of the meaning of the law and the associated regulations would be incorrect.

 

Got any examples of that? They actually exclude expectant fathers?

 

Yah, all over da place. Bet yeh have 'em in your area. Mrs. Beavah has even helped teach one locally. They exclude all males. Doesn't mean that other programs aren't available for fathers or for parents together. Just means they're meeting a particular need for a particular group.

 

Beavah

 

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beavah writes:

Your interpretation of the meaning of the law and the associated regulations would be incorrect.

 

Coming from someone who still insists that public schools CAN practice religious discrimination, that's laughable. Nothing in that act says that schools can't require all groups to allow all students to join any groups that meet at the school, and I don't know of any court decisions regarding that.

 

"Got any examples of that? They actually exclude expectant fathers? "

 

Yah, all over da place

 

In other words, no, you don't have an actual example, just your waving hands.

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Merlyn,

Here's a citation for you:

The Boy Scouts of America is for boys and adult volunteers who believe in God.

You don't have to join. Neither do your daughters if you have any and neither do atheists. It's for boys who believe in God. Membership is voluntary, not compulsory.

 

* Girls can participate in Venturing from 14 to 20.

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Getting confused again I see! Any group can meet at a public school. The rub with the BSA is the charter is owned by the school.

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Yes Ed, that's the rub. And isn't that what Merlyn is saying? I mean, if you forget all the stuff (from Merlyn and you and others) about who's lying or not lying, and whose fault it is or isn't that some public entities have (or don't have, or would or wouldn't have) BSA charters, and who said what, and all that other stuff that just clutters up the issue and this forum with a lot of nonsense. A public entity can't own a program that excludes people on the basis that they don't believe in God. It's that simple.

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But, it seems OK if the scout unit is chartered to "Friends of ___"

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Yes Gonzo, because a "Friends of" is by definition a private organization. But as has been discussed in this forum several times, it is not a panacea. Some posters have written in the past that their council will not even allow this type of CO (or maybe just not for a new unit.) Such an organization, formed solely to be a CO, will not have its own place to meet (unless there are some very wealthy and generous "friends"), so it is dependent on a "real" institution (school, church, etc.) that will allow the use of its facilities without having the "benefits" that come with being a CO. (Not that all, or even most, CO's make use of those "benefits" anyway.) Such arrangements do exist (there is one in my school district, where the unit meets in a public school), but they are inherently unstable. There is also a larger risk of instability in the CO's leadership, which in most such setups will be drawn from current and recent-past parents of unit members. It's definitely a "CO of convenience", but it's better than nothing -- assuming the council will allow it.

 

What is more common in my area is for the PTO/PTA for the school where the unit meets to be the CO. Having been in that situation myself, I'd say it is better than the "Friends of" situation, but not by much. It has some of the same problems, just to a lesser degree.

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Well, NJ, Merlyn seems to be saying that not all groups can meet in a public school which just ain't true! That's what my post was concerning. No name calling just refuting what was posted.

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Ed, I was focusing on the sentence of your post -- in fact, one of the relatively few sentences in this thread -- that actually deals with the BSA. Most of this thread is about other situations that may or may not be analogous, and may or may not exist. It just clouds the issue.

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Ed, it's possible that public schools may be able to require that all groups that meet in the school allow all students to join. As far as I've seen, there have been no court opinions in this area. Imposing such a requirement on ALL groups wouldn't be discriminating against any one group if it's uniformly enforced.

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