Court: BSA Recruitment in Schools Biased Against Atheist Student

The Oregon State Court of Appeals ruled on March 2 there is substantial evidence” the Portland School District unlawfully discriminated against an atheist student by permitting in-school recruitment by Boy Scouts of America.

The 6-3 decision sends the case back to the state school superintendent for conciliation efforts. Nancy Powell, the mother of elementary school student Remington Powell, first objected to Boy Scout recruitment in 1996. Remington is now in high school. She sued the district in 1998, charging that since the Scout oath and principles require a belief in a deity, Boy Scout presence violates the state constitutional ban on government involvement with religion.

Although she lost that suit in 2002, Powell then filed a separate lawsuit, based on a state statute forbidding public schools from discrimination based on religion.

The court noted “only the students who meet a religious test may accept the invitation to join,” a fact which “subjects persons to differentiated treatment in a school activity on the ground of religion.”

The school district is considering a ban on Scout recruitment during school hours.

Freedom From Religion Foundation