March 9th, 2005 – WASHINGTON, D.C. â€“ U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, M.D. (R-TN) will introduce legislation in the next few days to ensure that the Boy Scouts of America are treated fairly by guaranteeing their right to equal access to public facilities, forums, and programs. This legislation addresses attempts to exclude the Boy Scouts from such facilities at the federal, state, and local levels, and legal moves by groups to proscribe longstanding Defense Department support to the Scouts.
â€œSince 1910, Boy Scout membership has totaled more than 110 million young Americans,â€ said Frist. â€œToday, more than 3.2 million youths and more than 1.2 million adults are members of the Boy Scouts. This unique American institution is committed to preparing our youth for the future by instilling in them values such as honesty, integrity, and character.
â€œThe Boy Scouts depend on equal access to public facilities and participation in public programs and forums. The legislation Iâ€™ll be introducing ensures that the Boy Scouts are treated fairly by guaranteeing their right to equal access to public facilities, forums, and programs. This legislation will allow the Boy Scouts to fulfill its mission without the distraction of defending itself against senseless attacks.
â€œI look forward to introducing this bill and ushering it through the Senate in a bipartisan manner so that the great work of the Scouts can continue without distraction. I have been in contact with Scout supporters in the House who plan to introduce my legislation there as well.â€
The â€œSupport Our Scouts Act of 2005â€ guarantees the Boy Scoutsâ€™ right to equal access in a number of ways. The legislation removes any doubt that Federal agencies may welcome Scouts to hold meetings and go camping on federal property. It ensures the Defense Department can continue providing support consistent with U.S. law. The legislation also ensures state or local government entities do not deny Boy Scouts equal access to public facilities, programs, or forums. Finally, the act clarifies that federal agencies cannot provide less support to the Scouts than the agency has in the past.
Once introduced, this legislation will be reported to the appropriate Senate committee for further consideration.