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Katrina Yeaw v BSA


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     Daniel Yeaw wanted to learn canoeing, camping, and other outdoor skills. When he turned 11, he decided to check out the Boy Scouts. The local Boy Scout troop offered him the opportunity to learn all he wanted to about the outdoors. Having taken a look at the Boy Scouts, he joined Troop 349 in his hometown of Sacramento, California.
     Of course Daniel was not alone in his interest in the outdoors. Another person who wanted to learn canoeing, camping, and other outdoor skills was his twin sister, Katrina.
     When Katrina sought to join her twin brother in learning about the outdoors from Troop 349, she was refused. The reason? Katrina was a girl and the Boy Scouting program was only open to boys.

     In 1995, Katrina Yeaw, through her father James Yeaw, acting as her guardian ad litem, filed suit against the Boy Scouts of America and the Golden Empire Council. She was represented by attorney Gloria Allred, who has been described as both a "famed and fiery feminist attorney" (Geraldo Rivera) and as a "champion of women's rights" (CNN).
     Katrina alleged (as in the Curran and Randall cases) that the BSA is a business establishment within the meaning of California's Civil Code section 51 and engaged in prohibited discrimination by excluding girls from membership. In comments to reporters, Allred claimed that BSA practices "gender apartheid."
     BSA moved to dismiss the case, but Allred sought a preliminary injunction stopping BSA from refusing to admit Katrina to membership in Troop 349. Allred argued that because it could not be "seriously disputed the Boy Scouts is a business establishment, there was a substantial likelihood she would prevail on the merits;" furthermore, Allred argued, Katrina would suffer irreparable damage if not admitted immediately into the Troop, because the longer the delay before she becomes a Boy Scout, the greater the likelihood she will be unable to complete the requirements to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout.
     In 1996, the case finally went to trial before Sacramento Superior Court Judge John Lewis. After hearing the arguments Judge Lewis denied the preliminary injunction. In denying the injunction, Judge Lewis noted that because Katrina was denied admission into a Troop, the Troop is the appropriate entity upon which to focus in addressing plaintiffs arguments under the Act. Relying principally on the California Supreme Court decision in Warfield (Warfield v. Peninsula Golf & Country Club (1995) 10 Cal. 4th 594), Judge Lewis concluded each of the Warfield criteria for determining whether a private membership organization is a business establishment within the meaning of section 51 warranted finding a Scout Troop is not a business establishment.
     Significantly, Judge Lewis held that the BSA is a membership organization whose benefits derive primarily, if not exclusively, from the interpersonal associations among its members. The relationships in Scouting are gratuitous, continuous, personal and social, and take place more or less outside public view.
     Allred appealed Judge Lewis' decision to the Third District Court of Appeal. In 1997, the Court of Appeal upheld Judge Lewis' decision. Allred appealed the decision to the California Supreme Court. In a brief order, the California Supreme Court announced that it would consider Katrina's appeal. However, the Court deferred hearing the appeal until a decision was reached in both the Curran and Randall cases, both of which were pending before the Court at the time.
     All three cases (Yeaw, Curran and Randalls), while each dealing with a different BSA membership exclusion criteria (Girls, Gays and the Godless), all based their arguments on the belief that BSA is subject to California's Unruh Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination by business establishments.

     In March 1998, the California Supreme Court ruled in the Curran and Randall cases that the Boy Scouts of America is not a business establishment, as defined in the Unruh Act, and therefore, can discriminate in it's membership criteria.
     A few months later, Katrina withdrew her appeal.
 

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