A federal civil rights complaint has been filed against the Salt Lake City School Board after a principal booted a Cub Scout pack from an elementary school.
About 30 young boys were told they could no longer meet at Mountain View Elementary School because the Boy Scout’s ban on gay members in leaders conflicted with the school district’s anti-bias policy.
The ban drew the ire of Michael Clara, a school board member and lifetime Boy Scout. Clara filed the federal complaint on behalf of two Latino parents.
“I believe it is an assault on the founding principles of our country for school officials to attempt to exclude a voice no less legitimate than its own from public school participation,” Clara tells me. “A marketplace of ideas devoid of competitive viewpoints engenders an insidious society of conformity, contrary to the fundamental precepts of our Constitution.”
He claims the school district is violating the Boy Scout Act – a law that requires schools to allow access to the Boy Scouts if they allow access to outside groups.
“It’s unfortunate this principal has the backing of the district to implement their own form of discrimination and racism,” Clara said. “They are using the resources of the school system to punish students who don’t agree with us.
The scout troop is made up of mostly Latino boys, he said – and the parents who complained are Catholics.
A district spokesperson told local media they had not seen a copy of the complaint.
On March 16 two Latino parents contacted Clara after the principal informed them the Cub Scout pack would no longer be allowed to meet at the school.
Three days later the school board member received a telephone call from the principal confirming that directive.
“(He) confirmed that the Cub Scouts were prohibited from meeting in the building because they will not allow gay scout leaders,” he said.
Clara, who describes himself as a Christian conservative Republican who supports gay rights, said he was very concerned by the ban.
“Why on Earth would we want to remove something positive from the school,” he asked. “Where does this end? It’s a form of discrimination in the name of intolerance.”
The Cub Scouts had been meeting at the school for three years – but since their eviction – meetings have ceased.