Boy Scouts Under Attack Again

The Boy Scouts of America are under attack again in Philadelphia. The Cradle of Liberty Council has rented its headquarters from the City of Philadelphia for $1 a year since 1928. Now the city’s solicitor has demanded the the BSA renounce its position on homosexuality or be evicted from the city property. A similar position was taken by the City of San Diego against the Desert Pacific Council when it attempted to cancel a $1 a year lease of a camp in the city’s Balboa Park. In similar moves, some school districts have not allowed Scouts to use school property for scouting activities.

This year is the centennial anniversary of international Boy Scouts. The Boy Scouts of America began in 1910. The goal of the Boy Scouts is to develop citizenship, character, and fitness in young men. Core beliefs include a duty to God and a responsibility to conduct a moral life. While the BSA does not inquire about the sexual orientation of its members, it does not allow openly gay boys or men to be registered members. It has a similar stance on atheists. Scouting’s detractors believe these positions are an affront to civil liberties and want Scouting to either change its values or loose its special privileges of using public property at special rates.

We are living in a time when Scouting’s values are needed more than ever before. Boys need to be in a “gang” that promotes duty to God and country instead of gangs that promote death and destruction. Yet, as an organization that can offer a great public good, the Boys Scouts are again under attack.

Public-private partnerships use public capital with a private organization’s participation to provide a public resource. Instead of insisting on “my way or the highway,” cities and special districts should be looking for ways to provide for a needed public good by continuing support of the BSA through public-private partnerships. Clearly, the BSA has something of value to offer. It doesn’t force its values on anyone. If someone doesn’t agree with Scouting’s values, they don’t have to join. However, pushing Scouts out of the public square is only self destructive to these cities that truly need help in these very troubled times.

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