Recently, the Boy Scouts of America — one of the nation’s most prominent youth organizations — essentially told the young people it seeks to empower that some of them are unequal, merely because of the way they were born.
For the past two years, the National Council of the BSA had been reevaluating their infamous exclusion policy, which denies “membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA.”
In 2000, the Supreme Court upheld that policy, ruling that the 1st Amendment’s freedom of association allows private organizations to exclude whomever they choose. Numerous protest campaigns ensued in the following years.
Those prompted the Boy Scouts to reconsider but, ultimately, not to do the right thing. Just recently, an 11-member special review committee reached a unanimous decision: Homosexuals “open or avowed” are still unwelcome in the Boy Scouts. Also, the Boy Scouts have said they welcome “all who share its beliefs but does not criticize or condemn those who wish to follow a different path.” Not only does this statement suggest — inadvertently or not — the antiquated notion of homosexuality as a “different path” one may “wish” to follow, it’s also patently untrue. Reaffirming a ban on “open or avowed” homosexuals is nothing if not an incitement to “criticize” and “condemn.”
The prejudice seems inimical to three of the qualities that Scout Law promotes: kindness, friendship and bravery. It also calls into question the organization’s oft-cited motto, “Be Prepared.” Prepared for what kind of world? I strongly object to the decision to reaffirm the policy that denies membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA.
The BSA's decision is less about morality and protection of youth against sexual predators and more about conservative politics. It will be hard for me to be proud to say that I'm an Eagle Scout, knowing that the organization that awarded me that rank and that taught me the value of loyalty, courtesy, helpfulness and reverence is now teaching its young members bigotry and intolerance.