Home > Learning > Times Have Changed; So Should the BSA

Times Have Changed; So Should the BSA

Ever since 1910 when the Boy Scouts of America was founded, they have had a policy against allowing gay boys to join. They have fought to keep this policy by referring to their first amendment right, that “congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble” (Amendment 1). The BSA official policy reads, “While the BSA does not proactively inquire about the sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or members, we do not grant 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”. They have also stated that their reason for not allowing gays into their private organization is that homosexuality is not conducive to its moral framework. Although they are a private organization, they receive non-economic support from the public and are recognized by congress as a federally charted organization. For Boy Scout events such as the annual Scout Jamboree, the Secretary of Defense is allowed to provide transportation, military equipment, and accommodations. The US Navy also allows service members who have earned the honor of Eagle Scout to enlist in a higher pay grade. These benefits and many others are denied to gays.

The BSA has received a lot of pressure from the public to change their policy. This is what probably led them to reconsider their ban on gay members and leaders into the organization. They planned to let each group decide for themselves whether or not they would accept gays. A week after news outlets reported these discussions, the Boy Scouts announced that they would postpone their final decision until they held their national meeting in May. As the United States has become more accepting of gay rights, the Boy Scouts have received more and more criticism for their controversial policy. Grass roots pressure from local scout chapters have been the most effective and influential on the BSA reconsideration of the policy.

Personally, I believe that the BSA no gay policy is outdated and institutionalizes homophobia. A large number of the American population is gay, and there is absolutely no problem with that. They have the right to express themselves and should be able to participate in and enjoy everything that a straight citizen can. This policy to me is no different from discrimination against race or religion. The BSA is not fostering a mutual respect for all, but instead a homophobic and unfair discrimination. Pat Robertson of the 700 Club demonstrates the opposing argument to this by saying that if gay boys were allowed into the organization it would result in “predators as Boy Scouts, pedophiles who will come in as Scoutmasters”. This is an unfair statement; you cannot assume that just because they are gay, they will molest other boys and act inappropriately.

An example of the BSA discrimination is the story of James Dale, who joined Cub Scouts when he was eight years old. James continued with Boy Scouts where he earned 33 merit badges and the Eagle Scout Award at age 17. He was elected into the Order of the Arrow, receiving the Vigil Honor and serving as chairman of his Lodge’s Vigil Honor Selection Committee. He was also asked by the council to speak as a youth representative at fund raising events. While attending Rutgers University and being co-president of the school’s lesbian and gay alliance, he served as an assistant scout master to troop 73. When a scout executive found out about this, he revoked his registration with the BSA and terminated his position. Even though James had done nothing wrong and had lived out the Boy Scout ideals his whole life, he was abruptly and unfairly stripped of all that he had earned. We have an evolving society that is becoming more understanding and accepting of Gays, and it is time that the BSA change along with it and become the accepting and nourishing community that they should be.

Author: GOV_KatieR

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