Q: A local resident raised the question recently about the Boy Scouts using the city's Scout Hall and also discriminating against gay people. Is this a violation of the city's Human Rights Ordinance and what is the status of the Boy Scouts in Scout Hall?
A: City Manager Jim O’Reilly answered our question in great length. What you read below are his words entirely:
“Yes, that is correct during the Public Session period of the October 16, 2012 City Council meeting an individual raised the issue of the Cub Scout Pack 300 program of the Boy Scouts of America using the City of Gulfport's Scout Hall building and asked that this use be discontinued based upon the Boy Scouts of America's (BSA) national policy in regards to same sex orientation.
“The individual expressed the opinion that the Cub Scouts use was contradictory to the City of Gulfport's Human Rights Ordinance (Ord. 2005-16), adopted October 4, 2005.
“The Gabber asks two questions. Is this a violation of the City's Human Rights Ordinance? What is the status of the Cub Scouts in Scout Hall?
“In response to the individual's statement of October 16, 2012: On November 2 I met with the volunteer leader of Cub Scout Pack 300 and concerned parents of the children participating in the program. The purpose of the meeting was to discern the applicable Boy Scouts of America (BSA) rules/guidelines for a child's or volunteer's participation. Furthermore, at the meeting, I made inquiry of the leader and parents to determine if any discriminatory acts including those based upon sexual orientation had occurred and to Cub Scout Pack 300's application of the Boy Scouts of America's (BSA) national policies related to sexual orientation – were they in place and/or applied to the Cub Scout program held in the City of Gulfport's Scout Hall building?
“The leader of Cub Scout Pack 300 and parents in attendance both verbally and in subsequent correspondence of November 6 assured me that no such incidents or issues related to sexual orientation had occurred or had a situation arisen or been presented to the group to be addressed. Gulfport Cub Scout Pack 300 has not applied nor addressed the national policy. The leader of Cub Scout Pack 300 and parents continually stressed the following as they relate to Gulfport's Cub Scout Pack 300, no child or volunteer has been denied participation based upon sexual orientation, the program is open to all children and the ongoing need for volunteers to assist with the children. Additionally, the leader and parents agreed they could not address statements/policy made beyond their control at the national level of Boy Scouts of America's (BSA).
“Is this a violation of the City's Human Rights Ordinance? Before a determination of violation is made a formal complaint must be filed with the city. The procedure to investigate and determine if a violation exists or has occurred is clearly stated within Section 26.4 - ‘Procedures; initiation of proceedings’ of the City's Human Rights Ordinance (Ord. 2005-16). The ordinance states that a person who believes they were subjected to an unlawful discriminatory practice may file a sworn or affirmed written complaint with the city, stating the name and address of the complainant and the person or persons against whom the complaint is made. The formal complaint must state, in detail, the alleged facts surrounding the alleged unlawful discriminatory practice.
“To date, the City of Gulfport has not received a formal written complaint from an individual unlawfully discriminated against or adversely impacted by a specific issue that would need to be investigated, addressed and resolved - pertaining to the use of the City of Gulfport's Scout Hall by Cub Scout Pack 300.
“What is the status of the Cub Scouts in Scout Hall? At this time there has been no change in City policy in regards to allowing Cub Scout Pack 300 to meet at the City of Gulfport's Scout Hall Building.”
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