The Boy Scouts of America Takes a Half-hearted Step Towards Inclusion of Gays

Boy Scout gay ban

Take me to our leader. Oh, wait. We don’t have one.

It’s with a great sense of relief that I have two little girls in my house and no little boys. Not because I’m more into princesses than cars (although that, too). But because I’d hate telling a kid they can’t be a Boy Scout — and if they asked me, they simply can’t.

Not because I don’t think the mission of the Scouts is worthy. My dad was an Eagle Scout, which is an accomplishment he’s rightfully proud of to this day.

It’s because I think the guiding principles that determine membership into the Boy Scouts is despicable.

The organization has had a long-standing ban on gay scouts and leaders, a practice that I find abhorent. While it was announced on Friday that they are moving to lift the ban, that would only apply to youth members. Gay adults would still be banned from serving as leaders.

The matter goes to a nationwide vote in May, and if approved, “no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone,” spokesman Deron Smith told Reuters.

Reuters said the easing of the ban on gay youth but not adults is a result of a report that found “religious groups linked to the Scouts were concerned with homosexual adult leaders not with youth and concluded ‘a change in the membership policy specific to youth only would be consistent with the religious beliefs of the BSA’s major chartered organizations.’”

The study that prompted the change found that 75 percent of Scout families oppose the current membership policy. But while it’s a step in the right direction, it’s a half-hearted step — emphasis on half — at best.

It’s impossible for me to imagine allowing a child of mine to be part of an organization that denies membership on the basis of sexual orientation. To ban openly gay men from being Scout leaders screams of ignorance — as if a gay man is necessarily a pedophile. Ridiculous.

I think it’s critical to teach children to be prepared, as the Boy Scouts does. But rather than support their membership in a bigoted organization, I’d rather teach my kids personally to be prepared — to stand up for those being discriminated against and fight those people whose discriminatory views are misguided, wrong and hurtful.

Photo credit: iStockphoto

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