Although federally chartered since 1916, the Boy Scouts of America have
recently gone to great lengths to define themselves as a private group,
outside the public domain and able to discriminate. This year, the Scouts
have successfully argued before the U.S. Supreme Court (Boy Scouts of
America et al. v. Dale) to overturn a 1999 New Jersey Supreme Court
decision (Dale v. Boy Scouts of America, et al. ), which stated the Scouts
could not discriminate based on sexual orientation.
The official news release from the Scouts opens with, "We are very pleased
with the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in the Dale case. This decision
affirms our standing as a private association with the right to set its own
standards for membership and leadership"
(Boy Scouts of America News Release, 28 June 2000 [link no longer available]).
President Clinton's Executive Order 13160 of 23 June 2000 prohibits
discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in federally conducted
education and training programs (Executive Order 13160).
Furthermore, the Scouts have a very strong religious component in both
their Oath and Law, which require a belief in God.
I believe UCAR may be in violation of Clinton's executive order and two of
its own policies. In addition, I seek clarification of the Boulder County
United Way's policies regarding the Scouts. Please consider the following
(1) Is the Education and Outreach Program bound by Clinton's Executive
Order? Is a Mesa Lab tour for the Scouts a violation due to the fact NSF
owns the facility and NCAR is largely federally funded?
(2) Because Scout Oath and Law require reverence to God, are Scout
fundraising activities via food sales and other solicitations sponsored by
UCAR staff on behalf of their children a violation of provision 1 of UCAR
Policy 4-1-7, Solicitation, Posting, and Distribution of Materials on
(3) Will Scout use of UCAR facilities, e.g., meeting space, be allowed? The
Scouts appear to match the listing of ineligible organizations,
specifically B and D, of UCAR's Policy 5-1-9, Facility Use for Non-UCAR Events.
(4) The Boulder County United Way contributed to the Scouts in 1997
(http://www.unitedway.org/). Will they continue to
support the Scouts? Other United Way chapters are withholding funds
(CNN, 12 September 2000 [link no longer available]). Will UCAR continue to advocate
the United Way if the Boulder chapter supports the Scouts?
Apparently, the Boy Scouts of America believe very strongly that they are a
private group and able to discriminate, as they have undoubtedly spent a
significant amount of time and money litigating this issue before the U.S.
Supreme Court. I see this as a very serious matter and request it be
addressed by UCAR.
Thank you for providing this service.
Answered on October 18, 2000
1) The executive order applies to UCAR in its broadest sense. UCAR does
not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin,
disability, religion, age, or sexual orientation in any element of its
operations, including education and outreach. The Mesa Lab is a federal
facility and is open to the public. A Mesa Lab tour for Boy Scouts would
not be a violation of the executive order; in fact, if we excluded the Boy
Scouts or any other group on the basis of their beliefs, that would be a
(2) Solicitation on behalf of any non-UCAR organization during work time is
not allowed, per policy 4-1-7.
(3) Scout use of UCAR facilities for meetings or social activities is
prohibited under policy 5-1-9.
(4) According to Barbara Pingrey, executive director of the Boulder County
United Way, the BCUW "encourages inclusive practices in all the programs we
fund. However, we do not use funding to mandate social change. We provide,
through our safety net of services, programs which are available to all the
residents of Boulder County. It is true that not every individual program
is available to every person. There are many examples here, including
programs designed for a particular demographic group (children, seniors,
etc.) or which serve a more limited geographic area." Based on these
considerations, the executive committee of the BCUW has determined that
they will honor the contract they have with the Boy Scout Longs Peak Council.
UCAR will continue its current practice, which is to make available
information about the United Way and other charities. UCAR does not endorse
or advocate any charity and does not require employees to contribute.
– Katy Schmoll, UCAR Vice-President of Finance and Administration