ACLU Files Federal Lawsuit to End Preferential Treatment for Boy Scouts in San Diego

August 28, 2000 12:00 am

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SAN DIEGO, CA–The American Civil Liberties Union of San Diego & Imperial Counties and the Tom Homann Law Association today filed a federal lawsuit seeking to require the City of San Diego to terminate lease agreements with the Boy Scouts for use of city park property.

“The Boy Scouts cannot have it both ways,” said Linda Hills, executive director of the ACLU of San Diego. “Having gone to great lengths to convince the courts that they have a constitutionally protected right to discriminate, the Boy Scouts cannot now turn around and ask the taxpayers of San Diego for a public subsidy.”

Under the leases between the Scouts and the City, the Scouts have exclusive use of prime park property in city-owned Balboa Park for 50 years, for a rent of $1 per year, and free use of an aquatic facility on city-owned Fiesta Island in Mission Bay.

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of two families who are barred from utilizing the city land controlled by the Boy Scouts because of the Scouts’ discrimination based on religious non-belief and sexual orientation.

be exempt from the state’s anti-discrimination law because excluding non-believers and gays is essential to the core mission of the organization.

This past June, the United States Supreme Court, reviewing a New Jersey case in which the Scouts ousted a gay leader, said that homophobia was so essential to the Scouts’ viability that it was protected by the organization’s First Amendment right of association.

Since these rulings, numerous public entities have severed their ties with the Boy Scouts, including the cities of San Francisco, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.

The ACLU’s news release on the Supreme Court ruling is online at

An op-ed and news release on the California ruling are online at and organization

News from the ACLU’s Lesbian and Gay Rights Project can be found online at

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