Frist, Alexander Sponsor "Support Our Scouts Act"

Wednesday, March 9, 2005

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Bill Frist, M.D. (R-TN) and Lamar Alexander (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, the two senators said.

“Since 1910, Boy Scout membership has totaled more than 110 million young Americans,” said Frist. “Today, 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. The Boy Scouts depend on equal access to public facilities and participation in public programs and forums. The legislation I’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.”

“As an Eagle Scout I saw first-hand the value of the Boy Scouts for millions of young men across the country,” said Alexander. “I am proud to join Senator Frist in introducing this bill to ensure that they are treated fairly and continue to receive the federal support that the program has received in the past.”

The “Support Our Scouts Act of 2005” guarantees the Boy Scouts’ 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, it was stated.

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