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UPDATE: When we originally published this story in February, we reported that The Boy Scouts of America were postponing their vote on whether to allow gay members into their organization until May. Last Friday, April 19th, 2013, The Boy Scouts of America announced that they are lifting their ban on gays as youth members of their organization, but they will not lift their ban on gay adult scout leaders.
The Boy Scouts of America have been in the spotlight recently since President Obama said early this month that the organization should end its ban on gay members and scout leaders. (In case you weren’t aware, the Boy Scouts have maintained a long-standing ban on gay members). When Obama was pressed to elaborate on why the Scouts should be more inclusive, he said, “I think that my attitude is that gays and lesbians should have access and opportunity the same way everybody else does in every institution and walk of life.” After Obama went public with his point of view, the Boy Scouts said they were considering lifting the ban. Then in a turn-about this week, the Scouts said they weren’t sure and needed to think about it. Now they’ve postponed this decision until May.
I first heard about the Boy Scouts banning gay members and leaders some 12 years ago due to a news special I saw on TV about a boy who was protesting the Scouts after his favorite scout leader was kicked out for being gay. At that time, I made a conscious decision that any son of mine wouldn’t be a scout. I’m not on board with groups that ban people based on who they love. That’s insane. Many people agreed with me that the Scouts were being unfair, and legal action ensued. However, in 2000, the BSA won a Supreme Court case that allowed the Scouts to uphold their national ban on gays. In said lawsuit, the Boy Scouts asserts that “Homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the values it seeks to instill.” Fast forward to present day, and we’ve got Obama and others trying to guilt force a private organization into a choice that they’re not on board with. Maybe you agree with Obama standing up for this issue, maybe not, but below is my take on this issue — as well as over 15 all-inclusive scouting alternatives to The Boy Scouts of America.
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A Coerced Lift on the Ban Will Not Change Minds
The Boy Scouts have never had an open door (or open tent, if you will) policy. They clearly feel that “Homosexual conduct” is not a core value they hold dear. Their current members are a major testament to this. Last Wednesday, after the Boy Scouts announced that they might be lifting their ban on gay members, several hundred Boy Scouts, parents and supporters gathered outside Boy Scouts of America national headquarters with horrible flags and signs to rally against changing the ban. As the L.A. Times reports, the homemade signs proclaimed “Don’t invite sin into the camp!,” “God votes no on gays!” and “Save our boys from homosexual acts!” Additionally, many parents are threatening to remove their boys from the Scouts if the ban is lifted, and likewise many Boy Scouts financial backers would likely remove their support.
On the flip side, some folks involved with the Scouts disagree with the ban and think it should be lifted. For example, Cheyton Jain, 18 and longtime member of the more liberal Santa Monica Troop 2 notes, “This is a huge step for the BSA in the first place to even consider changing that rule because that’s been in place since the beginning. With pressure coming from Obama, I think they’re coming to their senses.” The word “pressure” is key. As much as I disagree with excluding people based on their sexuality, I also strongly believe that forcing a group (or individual) into a decision they’re uncomfortable with and strongly disagree with is NOT a way to create positive change.
You can brute force a group into lifting a ban, but a forced ban lift doesn’t mean the group will now simply agree with the decision and accept everyone with open arms. So the ban gets lifted, so what. If the Boy Scouts still believe that gay members should not be allowed and that “Homosexual conduct is inconsistent with their values,” ban lifted or not, nothing will truly change. Sure, they might allow gay members and gay scout leaders, but will they really accept them? How will a group dead set against gay members treat those members? Would you really want your child to be part of a group that says it, “Teaches that homosexual conduct is not morally straight” and further states that they “Do not want to promote homosexual conduct as a legitimate form of behavior.” We’re talking about a group where 10 year-old kids show up to rallies with signs that say, “Keep BSA morally straight” — does your child belong in a group that continually tells people they don’t belong based on their sexuality? Even if the ban is lifted, I’d never let my child be a part of this group.
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