An openly gay California state senator has proposed a bill that would strip tax exempt status for youth organizations that openly discriminate.
State Sen. Ricardo Lara introduced the “Youth Equality Act” Tuesday in the midst of the nationwide debate over the Boy Scouts of America’s controversial anti-gay policy. If it passes, the legislation would revoke the tax exempt status of youth organizations (including student groups organized through private and public schools) who discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
“Our state values the important role that youth groups play in the empowerment of our next generation; this is demonstrated by rewarding organizations with tax exemptions supported financially by all Californians,” said Lara. “SB 323 seeks to end the unfortunate discriminatory and outdated practices by certain youth groups by revoking their tax exemption privilege should they not comply with our non-discrimination laws.”
Supporters of the bill say they recognize it directly targets the Boy Scouts’ discriminatory policy, particularly as the organization’s national leadership debates the rule throughout the coming months. The Board of the Boy Scouts is expected to reconsider its anti-gay policy in May.
“I thought it was necessary for California to make sure we don’t condone the discriminating practices of youth groups like the Boy Scouts of America,” Lara said. “We’ve given the Boy Scouts ample time, and they’ve chosen not to address this issue.”
The bill would require a two-thirds vote in the state legislature to pass.