Boy Scouts to Leave Philadelphia Headquarters After Nondiscrimination Lawsuit

The Cradle of Liberty Council of Boy Scouts of America is leaving their Philadelphia headquarters after years of lawsuits over the group’s discriminatory policy barring gay scouts and leaders. The Cradle of Liberty Council headquarters is located in a city owned building, which they pay no rent on. The organization built the building after being allowed use of the land by the city under a 1928 agreement giving nonprofit organizations free use of property which they maintained.

In 2008, the city of Philadelphia attempted to either sell the property, or charge the Boy Scouts $200,000 a year in rent, market value for the property. The Boy Scouts filed an injunction against the city, beginning a five year legal battle. A federal court ruled in favor of the Boy Scouts in 2010. The decision was appealed by the city of Philadelphia, leading to the settlement reached this week.

The legal settlement between the city of Philadelphia and the Boy Scouts requires the city to reimburse the council $825,000 for repairs on the property they have completed over the years, and for the Boy Scouts to vacate the property by June 30. The Boy Scouts of America store will have to vacate by October 31.

The Cradle of Liberty Council attempted to enact a nondiscrimination policy within their council in 2003, but were forced to retract it by the national Boy Scouts of America organization. In a statement, Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke said, “I’m disappointed COLBSA [Cradle of Liberty Council of Boy Scouts of America] was not permitted by the Boy Scouts of America to adopt its own, more reasonable policy of inclusion… I will continue to support COLBSA’s great work with our youth as much as I continue to hope COLBSA will one day ban discrimination against gay children and adults.”

The Boy Scouts of America have reconsidered their policy on banning gay members in the past months. However, their current proposal only allows for the inclusion of gay scouts. Adult leaders, like parents Cate Wirth and Elizabeth Wirth who were not allowed to serve as volunteers in their son’s troop, will still be banned from the organization if the current proposal goes into effect.

The American Family Association released a “stark warning” to Pennsylvania municipalities considering passing nondiscrimination ordinances, claiming, “Their [“homosexual activists”]  game plan is to force all to validate their dangerous lifestyle — no matter what it costs.  With teens and young men who have sex with men making up about a quarter of the new HIV cases and black youth accounting for the largest share of new cases, this is tragic for Philadelphia.”

It is unclear how the Cradle of Liberty Council leaving their headquarters will impact the rate of HIV/AIDS infection in Philadelphia.

The Cradle of Liberty Council says that they will begin looking for a new property to use for their headquarters within the city or the suburbs.

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