Wednesday, February 06, 2013


This morning’s announcement that the Boy Scouts of America “need more time” to make a decision about ending discrimination against gay scouts and leaders is deeply disappointing. It not only lets down gay youth who are looking to the Boy Scouts to walk the talk of their diversity statement (“Scouts come from all walks of life, all types of family units, faiths, and racial and ethnic groups”) it also betrays the Scout oath “to help other people at all times” inserting a asterisk after “other people*” that reads *unless they are gay kids wanting to experience the gifts that Scouting offers.”

Over a decade ago at its 2000 General Convention the Episcopal Church adopted a resolution to “Encourage the Boy Scouts of America to allow membership to youth and adult leaders irrespective of their sexual orientation.” And now the Boy Scouts “need more time” to send the message to young gay American kids that they are just as loved, valued and important as their straight friends and neighbors? The time is now to end discrimination against our kids – and fair minded Americans need to step up, speak out, and drown out the voices of those marginalizing and excluding gay youth from Scouting. Justice delayed IS justice denied – and both our kids and our country deserve better!


RonF said...

Overturning a policy that's been in place for 103 years - and with broad support both inside and outside the organization - is not something that the relatively miniscule membership of the BSA's Executive Board should make on it's own. Also, there really hasn't been enough time for the membership (both the actual members and the sponsoring organizations) to have their own dialog about what they think of this.

I'm not surprised at this. I predicted that they'd do just this - have the National Council itself make this decision at the BSA's annual meeting. National Council has members from all over the BSA . Some are elected, some are appointed and some are members by virtue of their position in their local Council. It's ~1400 members are much more representative of the BSA as a whole than the Executive Board. If National decides to adopt local option, the combination of the time between now and May and the much larger and more representative body will cut down on the shock and make it a lot more palatable.

RonF said...

It also gives sponsors and units time to figure out how they'd implement such a policy while still ensuring the safety of the Scouts.


Justice delayed is justice denied. Google Eagle Scout "Zach Wahls" and learn something.

Erp said...

Surely the local units are following the BSA policy of background checks and two deep already and not making an assumption that keeping out the gays keeps out child molesters?

Most adult gays and lesbians who want to join are probably the parents of scouts or potential scouts. Others were scouts as youth and want to continue to contribute. They won't be any different in that regard than most of the current leaders. Most of the initial change will be that the current closeted (at least outside the troop) leaders and scouts will breathe easier knowing that they won't be kicked out when someone outside the troop finds out and makes a fuss.

I will note the 'local option' sidesteps the issue of national's own policies at nationally controlled sites such as Philmont and the other high adventure camps. It also sidesteps the issue of council policies in regards to their own employees. Will councils be allowed to discriminate or will the choice to discriminate be only allowed at the chartering organization level. My guess is the punting to May is in part over council and national policies.

RonF said...


Surely the local units are following the BSA policy of background checks and two deep already and not making an assumption that keeping out the gays keeps out child molesters?

National conducts background checks automatically on all adult leaders every time they fill out a registration form (you have to give them your Social Security number). And I would certainly HOPE that they are following two-deep leadership and other youth protection policies.

I'm not clear, though, why you bring this up.

RonF said...

O.K. I read up on Zach. He joined the Scouts and got his Eagle. There doesn't seem to have been any controversy about his membership or his Eagle award. And he ran a petition drive about the BSA's membership policies and delivered them to National. What's your point?

uffda51 said...

It's tough to see how Susan could be any more clear, RonF.

There have been two BSA-related threads here. If I have counted correctly, you have posted 4 of the 6 comments on one thread and 13 out of 30 on the other.

What is your point?


My point on Zach Wahls is how well he articulates the reasons why the time is now to end discrimination -- and how clearly "protecting Scouts" is a smoke screen for protecting homophobia.

RonF said...

Zach's testimony relates how he has apparently been brought up well and has achieved worthy accomplishments both in and out of Scouting. Good for him! Sincerely.

At first I didn't see what that has to do with gays in Scouting, and what you meant by claiming that my concern for protecting Scouts is a smokescreen for "homophobia". But then I realized that you apprently think that my concern here is that homosexuals are interested in child molestation. Please understand that this is not my concern. If youth protection policies are followed - which they should be anyway - I have no fear that kids will be molested by the adults.

I also see that you're making the presumption that my objections to this lie in some kind of bias against homosexuals. Apparently it doesn't occur to you - or you don't want to admit, I can't tell - that I might have genuine non-political/social concerns about this policy based on 20+ years of working with children in the Scouting program. No, I am obviously simply a "homophobe". Reducing me to a simple category does make it a lot easier to dismiss my concerns. If I recall correctly from the way it's been described to me, this process is often described as "othering" someone. Reduce people to a simple classification based on their race, ethnicity, religion or other characteristic and you can then ignore them.

Seriously - you think that there's no dangers associated with implementing such a policy, and that the only motive someone would have in objecting to it is based out of an unreasoning fear (a.k.a. "phobia")? Me, I figure someone's probably going to end up getting killed. And then the people who forced this will blame it on people like me.

RonF said...

uffda51, my point is that the people who are attempting to force the BSA to adopt this policy have not thought through the likely consequences, and won't accept responsibility for any negative ones. I'm figuring that it's a combination of ignorance and neglect. I'm hoping it's not a cynical acceptance of a few casualties in order to advance a particular social objective.


With all due respect (and I'll admit I'm running out of it on this issue) categorizing the end of discrimination against gay kids as "advancing a particular social agenda" is dismissive ignorance incarnate ... and here endeth the comments on this thread.

Seriously. If the Pentagon can figure it out so can the freaking Boy Scouts.



RonF said...

Susan, I'm disappointed. You're very quick with labels ("homophobia") trite cliches ("if the Pentagon can figure it out, so can the Boy Scouts") and misdirection , but when someone ask you to genuinely consider what problems may occur because of this policy you cut off discussion - one you opened, not I, and twice.

Really - it does lead one to the conclusion that you don't really care what happens to kids as long as the Boy Scouts are forced to adopt policies that satisfy what in your opinion is social justice. After all, if some kid knifes another one because he made a pass at him it'll be me having to call the parents up, not you.

Don't tell me it won't happen. I've seen a kid threaten another kid with a knife. I've seen a kid take a swing with a tree branch at another kid's head so hard it would have at the very least concussed the intended victim, if not killed him. And I myself back in the late '60's was the subject of sexual advances from a fellow Scout (quite explicit), as have other Scouts. If you don't think it'll happen you are quite foolish. Not that you'll accept any responsibility for this.

My father was both a professional and a volunteer Scouter. Twice in his professional career he had to call up a pair of parents and tell them that their child had been killed. I do everything I can to try to make sure that I won't have to make that call myself someday. But that day is coming closer if this policy goes through.


Letting this one go up to illustrate just how the process of unexamined homophobia works to turn the victims of oppression into "the problem."

Seriously, Ron ... we're done here. Get some therapy. I'll keep you in my prayers.

RonF said...

So I don't know if old posts like this alert if someone puts a new comment in, but just in case:

The B.S.A. is apparently quite serious about getting the entire membership involved in this decision. National itself is sending out what turns out to be a fairly extensive survey to it's members. There are blogs (open to registered BSA members only) seeking comments. My local Council invited the representatives of each chartering organization to a meeting, explained what was going on, asked every one to voice their opinions and passed out a survey to all of us. I was there representing my parish - I gave both my own and my parish's opinions on the matter, being careful to note which was which. National has a Facebook page up on this. They have a web site up on this. I have been in the BSA for 20 years as an adult and I have never seen them come anywhere close to wanting so much input from their membership on any proposed changes before this.