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Civil rights complaint over Boy Scouts resolved

Published September 25, 2013 6:13 pm

Allegation • District disputes Boy Scouts were ever barred from meeting at Mountain View Elementary.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A federal civil rights complaint alleging a Salt Lake City Cub Scout pack was barred from meeting at Mountain View Elementary due to the national gay membership controversy has been resolved.

Salt Lake City School District officials invited the Cub Scouts to meet at the school, defusing the conflict and ending a federal investigation into the complaint, according to a Sept. 18 letter from the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.

The district's response "corrects any prior misapplication of the district's policy," it said.

Salt Lake City school board member Michael Clara filed the complaint in March after two parents complained that about 30 Cub Scouts were blocked from meeting at the school due to the Boy Scouts of America's ban on gay members and leaders. The principal told the parents he wasn't sure whether the ban violated the district's anti-bias policy.

The organization has since voted to accept gay youths, though gay leaders are still barred.

"We've got to level out and let people from different perspectives and beliefs to come into the school and help our kids," Clara said.

A spokesman for the district said that the principal had declined to involve the pack in an after-school program because the pack's staffing levels weren't consistent, in addition to the potential bias issue.

"We did explain to them that they can still meet in the school like any other group can," said Jason Olsen. "They were never kicked out of the school."

Clara disputed that version of events, saying that the Scouts were told at one point that they'd have to pay a rental fee, but said he supported the resolution of the complaint.

"It's a victory for our community," he said. "I believe that Cub Scouts can exist here and there's no threat to either the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] community or to the Cub Scouts."

lwhitehurst@sltrib.com

Twitter: @lwhitehurst