Florida School Board Rejects Grant With Boy Scouts Affiliation Because Group 'Discriminates Against Gays'

A Florida school board turned town a nearly $55,000 grant with Boy Scouts affiliation for the first time in 11 years. A majority of board members agreed that Boy Scouts discriminates against LGBT people, WTSP reports.

Pinellas County School Board member Linda Lerner has been fighting against accepting the money for 10 years, and yesterday she received enough votes to turn down the grant for the first time.

The money would have gone toward "Learning for Life," a program aimed at helping students build character and values such as respect and responsibility, FOX Tampa Bay reports.

The grant is made up from taxpayer dollars that have been funneled through the state of Florida to the Pinellas County School District. The district is required to use the money for the Boy Scouts-associated character development program, Lerner explained.

Lerner points to a portion of the Boy Scouts Oath she said she believes has discriminatory undertones: "On my honor I will do my best...To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight," WTSP points out.

"If you're gay, it says you're not morally straight and clean," Lerner said in the board meeting after citing part of the oath, the St. Petersburg Times reports.

The Boy Scouts of America have a history of fighting against homosexuality, but the national organization told WTSP that it "teaches its members to use courtesy and respect at all times. To disagree does not mean to disrespect."

In a 2000 opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Boy Scouts of America could reject openly LGBTl members because laws against discrimination applied only to places of "public accommodation", such as restaurants and libraries.

The ruling stated that the private membership organization had a freedom of expressive association, and that a gay leader "would significantly affect its expression," since the Boy Scouts "asserts that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the values embodied in the Scout Oath and Law, particularly with the values represented by the terms “morally straight” and “clean.

The grant money would have gone to several area schools, but the district reportedly has plans to expand a character-building program already in place.