Boy Scouts to Vacate Philly Home Under Settlement
A Boy Scouts of America group will vacate its city-owned Philadelphia headquarters in return for $825,000 under an agreement that settles a long legal battle over the organization’s ban on gays, Mayor Michael Nutter’s office said Friday.
The Boy Scouts Cradle of Liberty Council staff will leave its downtown Philadelphia headquarters of 85 years by June 30 and the retail store in the building will close by Oct. 31. In exchange, the city will reimburse the Boy Scouts for improvements made to the building, Nutter’s office said.
The group’s rent-free use of the building came under fire after the Boy Scouts of America barred gays from membership. The city unsuccessfully sought to have the chapter evicted for violation of Philadelphia’s anti-discrimination policies.
Ultimately, the Cradle of Liberty Council decided that the battle was becoming a distraction and it was in the best interests of the city’s boys who they were trying to recruit to put an end to it, the group’s scout executive, Tom Harrington, said.
"If anything, this is good news that will help us renew our focus on serving those youth," Harrington said.
A proposal under discussion by the Boy Scouts’ National Council to partially lift the policy - allowing gays as youth members but continuing to bar them as adult leaders - was followed closely by city officials, but it wasn’t going to go far enough, Harrington said.