Lambda Legal Applauds Vote of Los Angeles Police Commission to Cut Ties With Boy Scout Affiliate

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"Discrimination is a core Boy Scout value"
November 3, 2009

(Los Angeles, November 3, 2009) — Lambda Legal applauds the Los Angeles Police Commission for finally voting to end its association with Learning for Life, a youth training program closely affiliated with Boy Scouts of America. The decision came the same day that Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced the appointment of Deputy Police Chief Charlie Beck as the department's new head.

The Commission voted today to sever its ties to LFL, nearly two years after Lambda Legal sent a strongly-worded request to then-City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo. The advocacy letter drew on Lambda Legal's years of challenging the Boy Scouts of America for seeking public support and claiming to welcome all boys while excluding gays and atheists. Lambda Legal called on the city to honor its own non-discrimination laws and cut ties with the program, which administered training for police and fire cadets.

"Learning for Life" is a national program that provides career education for youth. While its mission statement says LFL does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or religion, Lambda Legal explained that it is essentially an arm of Boy Scouts of America, which explicitly does.

The police commission vote follows a similar one in May of last year by the Los Angeles City Fire Commission, and a September 29th recommendation by the office of City Attorney Carmen Trutanich that the program be terminated. The department will now create and administer its own cadet program.

"We're pleased that city officials have lived up to their pledge to protect all Angelenos from discrimination, especially as the LAPD heads into a new era," said Lambda Legal Senior Counsel Jennifer C. Pizer. "The department has moved away from an often divisive and confrontational past and into an inclusive and diverse present. Unfortunately, discrimination is a core Boy Scout value – so essential that BSA has spent considerable time and money fighting all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to assert their right to exclude gay scouts. Today's vote upholds what's best in American values – and LAPD values – honesty, integrity, reverence for the law, and respect for all people, regardless of sexual orientation or religion."

In 2000, BSA fought Lambda Legal all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, and as a private organization was allowed to continue barring gays, agnostics and atheists from leadership. But the Los Angeles City Code says city contractors cannot receive public money without agreeing "not to discriminate … against any employee or applicant for employment" due to religion or sexual orientation, among other bases.



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