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PTO, Boy Scouts, & ACLU

18 years 7 months ago #101804 by RosieReader
Replied by RosieReader on topic RE: PTO, Boy Scouts, & ACLU
Looks like I'll be the lone voice in the wilderness on this one, but I'll post anyway. The fact that the Boy Scouts have a pledge that references god isn't the issue. The case law is well established that you can't offer your facilities on a discriminatory basis based on a student organization's religios-ity.

But lots of us have concerns that the Boy Scouts discriminates against both its members and its leaders based on sexual orientation. Our school district prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. As a result, Boy Scouts should find somewhere else to meet. THat really isn't such a big deal -- there are lots of churches in my community, many of whom agree with the Boy Scouts on this issue. Those churches can provide a location for meetings. And leave the schools available for gropps, like the Girl Scouts for instance, that don't discriminate on that basis.

And for the person who felt that all liberals are somehow generally bad and bad americans I have this to say. Sitting right next to you at a PTO meeting, and helping out on that last big fundraising effort, and doing the lion's share of the clean up after the spaghetti feed, and chaperoning the last big field trip your child went one, there was one of those dreaded liberals. Watch your name calling. People are people -- we're all involved in the PTO because we want to improve the educational lives of our kids. I want my kids to learn to be tolerant, but there are better ways to teach them by me having to respond in a grown up way to your childish stereotyping rant.
18 years 7 months ago #101803 by Critter
I may have thought of a solution to our problem. This idea might be better posted to BSA discussion forum (if there is such a thing), but maybe one of you have heard of a similar approach. Why couldn't the troop set up a non-profit corporation in their state and use that as the sponsor? It's a silly workaround to the contract, but maybe the scout leaders who need the sponsor are willing to put up or shut up.

The more I think about it, I am starting to believe that the issue is bigger than the individual troop. With the trouble this is causing thanks to the ACLU, maybe BSA should reconsider the whole chartering organization model. It probably made lots of sense when BSA was founded, but maybe times have changed enough to where the model needs to change, too. Too bad pontificating on the merits of the charter concept won't solve our dilemma.
18 years 7 months ago #101802 by Critter
We got the call today. Our local boy scout troop who has met at our school for 20+ years with no incident, is being pressured by the ACLU. The issue here is that the troop is indeed chartered by our school.

Prior to 1998, the PTO was the sponsor. Then the PTO president refused to renew the contract because she had issues with the obligations. Correct, there's no cost to the PTO, but it does expose the chartering organization in other ways, most noteably in the area of assuring adult volunteer integrity. Today our local troop called to ask if the PTO could take over the charter when it expires as year end.

I am PTO president this year. In 1998, I was a member who sat through some incredibly emotional meetings -- tears, namecalling, side picking-- while the president held her ground. I could understand the arguement for both sides: the PTO can't accept these terms...the boy scouts are an important part of this community. It was a relief that the school stepped in, but it took several years for the sting of that issue to fade away. Now I have to deal with it.

In the time since 1998, our PTO has incorporated, which provides our officers personal protection in the event of a law suit. So I suppose the worse that could happen is the loss of all the PTO's money if there were a lawsuit. I hate to focus on worse case scenario, but I have to be diligent.

Our bylaws do speak to the issue of supporting another organization. But the way the bylaw item is worded, one could make a good arguement for either side of the boy scout issue, so the bylaws aren't much help.

Any community group or individual for that matter, who wants to use a room in our schools for a meeting can do so. They have to submit paperwork, follow the rules, and pay a small fee, but as far as I know, the district doesn't refuse anyone. Like someone above said, we have un-housed churches use the schools all the time. The PTO doesn't own any facility, though, and we don't have any involvement in granting space at the school. So right off, we can't fulfill the first requirement of the charter (if you want to be strict about it).

The second issue has to do with adult volunteers. That's the item I am most concerned about. Do we need to guarantee background checks? How far does the PTO's involvement need to go to fulfill our obligation?

This will be a test for our PTO. Any words of advice?
18 years 9 months ago #101801 by mykidsmom
Let's add a new twist. I learned yesterday that the school district for our area will no longer allow students to wear items with religous symblos. Need to look at the site myself but sounds like necklaces, earings....yeah. Stay tuned.....
18 years 10 months ago #101800 by C. Brooks
Replied by C. Brooks on topic RE: PTO, Boy Scouts, & ACLU
I did google this. One of the articles I read on stated that the ACLU is going after the schools that let the Scouts rent on their property. So that makes me think that if you allow the Scouts to hold their meeting with out charging anything there is no case.
18 years 10 months ago #101799 by smenny13
I few months ago we had the the Boy Scouts Council contact us as well. They had first contacted the Superintendant of the schools first. The man from the Boys Scouts came in and talked with us and the principal and answered all our questions. There is no liability on the PTO's half and no $$ that is needed to be given. So the board voted and we signed the contract.
I feel like the rest of you. It is stupid how the ACLU is going after the school, but we feel that the Boy Scouts is great for the boys so we signed the form. If we would have denied it then the boys would have to go to a church or a VFW or Legion. Hope that helps.
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