In its most recent court filings, the Cradle of Liberty Boy Scouts Council claimed it shouldn’t be evicted from the city-owned building it occupies rent-free because most of the services provided in the building are through Learning for Life, a program that does not discriminate on the basis of sex, sexual orientation or religion.
After years of negotiations, an agreement at the local level not to discriminate that fell through, and a local and a federal lawsuit, this is its defense?
According to the recent filings, of the 72,000 youth served out of the building at 22nd and Winter streets, all but 16,000 are aligned with the Learning for Life program, with the remainder solely participating in Boy Scouts of America programs.
But here’s the catch. From a quick Web search, it seems Learning for Life began as a subsidiary of the Boy Scouts in the early 1990s. The program, which provides vocational and educational training to youth, partners with local school districts, colleges, law-enforcement agencies and other organizations.
Learning for Life is based in Irving, Texas, and shares an address there — 1325 W. Walnut Hill Lane — with the national headquarters of the Boy Scouts of America.
In the filings, the Cradle of Liberty Council states that Learning for Life has “separate accounts, books and records and financial statements.” What it doesn’t say is this: The two share space, a phone number and support staff. (On the Cradle of Liberty website, the only staff listed for Learning for Life is the director, of 32 staff members listed as “Council Staff.” Presumably, this includes staff for both the properties at 22nd and Winter streets and one in Wayne. It is unlikely that a single person would be able to manage programs with 56,000 participants.)
On its face, it does seem that the Learning for Life program is open to all comers: The position statement on its website states, “Color, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ethnic background, economic status or citizenship is not criteria for participation.”
If the Scouting activities that currently take place at the 22nd and Winter building — including the executive director’s office — can be moved to the Wayne location and the Learning for Life program can comply with the city’s nondiscrimination ordinance, it seems feasible that the city could come to an agreement with the organization and allow it to remain in the building.
The question remains if the Cradle of Liberty Council would take that step.