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News Media Tap Professor David Cohen for his Expertise on the Boy Scouts Gay Ban, Allentown School District Sexual Harassment Case

July 18, 2012

On July 17, the Boy Scouts of America announced that it was reaffirming its membership standards, including its ban on gay members.  Some, like Professor David S. Cohen, have questioned whether its policies are dated.  In its July 17 article, the Christian Science Monitor featured Cohen's comments.

Cohen reflected on a 2000 U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the Boy Scouts' right to choose its members stating, “just because the Supreme Court has said the Boy Scouts are allowed to have this policy does not mean that it is just or that it is consistent with basic human compassion.”

Ultimately, Cohen said, the Boy Scouts' decision will only do it harm.  Regardless of whether the organization has a constitutional right to exclude members, "[c]ontinuing this policy is a recipe for the Boy Scouts to wither away and be remembered as a bigoted organization that refused to change with the times.”

Separately, in an article in the Morning Call, an Allentown newspaper, Cohen commented on the Allentown School District's settlement of a lawsuit where plaintiffs alleged the school district did not do enough to prevent the sexual abuse of four boys. 

According to the Morning Call article, the school district reached the $825,000 settlement one day before the case was set to go before a jury in federal court.  Cohen commented that the settlement reflects some recognition on the school district's part that it could have done more.  "[The victims] went through some horrible things and they need to be compensated," Cohen said. "It's probably a reflection that Allentown understands it did something wrong," Cohen concluded. 

An expert on sexual harassment and discrimination law, Cohen has published articles on the subject in the Harvard Journal of Law and Gender, Indiana Law Journal, South Carolina Law Review and the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law.