Sunday, December 27, 2009
It’s rare for me to praise any police department but this is one of them. The Los Angeles Police Department has ended its nearly 50-year relationship with the Boys Scouts of America, pledging not to tolerate the organization’s discrimination. As of New Year’s Day, LAPD Deputy Chief Earl Paysinger said the department will operate their youth program under a different name independent of the Boy Scouts, with the program being funded in part through donations.
The Boy Scouts started the Explorers program in 1949 as a career-oriented program for boys. The LAPD began participating in 1962. Since 1998, the LAPD has been running the Explorers program while Learning for Life – an organization created by the Boy Scouts and providing insurance coverage to participants.
Police Commissioner Alan Skobin issued the following statement:
“The Police Commission voted last month to sever ties with Learning for Life, saying the Boys Scouts’ policy of barring gays, atheists and agnostics from being troop leaders is a violation of the city’s non-discrimination policies. It’s bittersweet in the sense that the Boy Scouts or Learning for Life have been part of this for a long time – in name only – but the LAPD is committed to a better program and we can do that without having discrimination.”
The Boy Scouts’ policy of banning gays from being troop leaders faced legal challenges in the 1990s. However, the Supreme Court ruled the Boy Scouts had the right to decide who can join its ranks.