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LAPD To Ditch Youth Program Over Scout Bias?

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The Los Angeles Police Department is looking for a way to abandon its ties with an organization that is also connected to the Boy Scouts of America, which openly discriminates against gay people.

Learning for Life says it does not discriminate, nor does it take funds from the Boy Scouts. According to the LAPD, Learning for Life was once known as the L.A. Police Explorer Program. It was established in 1962 as a way for young people ages 14-20 to learn more about joining the police force and to train them as junior officers.

Robert M. Saltzman, a member of the L.A. board of police commissioners, wrote in an op-ed for the blog L.A. Observed last week that Learning for Life is administered by a city contractor that subcontracts the program to the Boy Scouts.

"The problem is that the Boy Scouts openly proclaim their right to discriminate based on sexual orientation and religion," he wrote. "I know first-hand the significant value of the Explorers Programs to the LAPD and for the young men and women who participate. But no matter how valuable the programs, that value is no justification for them to be administered by an agency that does not comply with the city's non-discrimination laws."

The LAPD's antidiscrimination policy states that the department is an equal opportunity employer, "free of discrimination, or harassment on the basis of race, color, national origin, ancestry, religion/creed, sex, disability, age, medical conditions, marital status, sexual orientation, retaliation for filing a claim of discrimination, or being afflicted or perceived as afflicted with" AIDS or HIV. The Los Angeles city attorney has recommended that the LAPD find another way to run the program, as the fire department has with a similar youth program.

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