Earlier in the day the Senate voted 51 to 49 for passage of the Helms’
amendment which prohibits federal funding to schools if they “deny equal
access” to Boy Scout troops because of their discriminatory policy banning
Both amendments are now expected to go to a conference committee,
where HRC will work to remove anti-gay Helms language from the bill.
The courts have already ruled that school districts must allow the Boy
Scouts to have equal access to public facilities, just like any other group.
But school districts are still entitled to deny the Boy Scouts special
benefits not offered to other groups. For instance, as the U.S. District
Court explained, local school districts are not required to “endorse,
participate, or solicit others to participate in Boy Scouts activities.”
What the Helms amendment seeks to do is intimidate school officials into
continuing to offer the Boy Scouts these special privileges, even if their
discriminatory policy conflicts with a community’s values and standards,
“This is really about forcing Helms’ anti-gay viewpoint on local school
districts across America,” said HRC Political Director Winnie Stachelberg.
“It is putting the congressional stamp of approval on exclusionary behavior
by having the Senate officially say that ‘discrimination is good.’ We
believe this sends a terrible message that conflicts with the values of most
Helms said on the Senate floor that “radical militants” were trying to ban
the Boy Scouts from campuses. He also said they [gay activists] “demand that
everybody else’s principles must be cast aside in order to protect the right
of homosexual conduct.” On May 23, the House passed a similar anti-gay
amendment sponsored by Rep. Van Hilleary, R-Tenn.
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