RIVERSIDE, CA - Documents unsealed in federal court recently charge the Old Baldy Council of the Boy Scouts of America, Inc. with fraudulently obtaining taxpayer funds to sponsor recruitment activities in the cities of Montclair and Ontario. The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California filed suit on behalf of an area resident and ACLU/SC board member, Glenn Goodwin, in August of 2002. The lawsuit has remained under seal until just recently, to give the U.S. Department of Justice time to decide whether to intervene.
The suit was filed under the Federal False Claims Act, which allows concerned citizens with knowledge of fraud used to obtain federal funds to file suit on behalf of the United States government. The suit charges that the Boy Scouts of America openly discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation and religion, so it cannot truthfully promise to comply with state and federal non-discrimination laws.
'This isn't about the Boy Scout's right to choose its own members,' said Glenn Goodwin, plaintiff in the federal suit. 'This is about an organization that lied to obtain taxpayer funds. Isn't telling the truth a part of the Scout Oath?'
The Old Baldy Council of the Boy Scouts of America applied for and received a federal Community Development Block Grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in August of 2001. The grant was for recruitment of boys in public schools to form new Cub Scout and Boy Scout troops. As an express condition of this $15,000 grant, the Council signed a certification of compliance with federal and state laws prohibiting discrimination in employment and provision of services and benefits. The suit charges that the Scouts had no intention of honoring that commitment because their rules prohibit hiring, or accepting as youth or adult members, gays and lesbians and people who refuse to swear an oath to God.
'The Old Baldy Council cannot comply with the Boy Scouts of America's national policy of discrimination and at the same time comply with state and federal anti-discrimination laws,' said Martha Matthews, Bohnett Attorney with the ACLU/SC. 'The Boy Scouts can't have it both ways - they must either stop discriminating in employment and membership, or stop receiving taxpayer money.'