In February of this year, the Boy Scouts of America announced that it needed more time to address and review the issue of gay Scouts. It’s been a rough ride for the Scout programs, but the organization, which many claim is stuck in the 1950s (the year that stamp to the right was issued), has made at least one stance clear – no youth should be denied the benefit of Scouting.
Gay rights activist however have made their stand as well, demanding that the ban be overturned, while also demanding the ban be extended to Scout leaders. In a statement to the Seattle Times, Josh Friedes of Equal Rights Washington explains why he doesn’t like the mixed message a partial ban sends. “Saying you cannot have openly gay Scout leaders sends the wrong message to gay youth, and it sends the wrong message to society.” Banning gay leaders would be “far from acceptable.”
How the Scouts reconcile this, May will tell. 1,400 members of the Boy Scout National Council will vote on a proposition lifting its ban on gay members in the organization. This vote does not currently extend to leaders.
In a statement the Boy Scout organization says the issue of homosexual Scouts is “complex and challenging” and the group has undertaken “the most comprehensive listening exercise in its history,” maintaining that it is difficult to determine the effect of keeping the ban on homosexual Scouts or dropping it.
“For this reason, the Executive Committee, on behalf of the National Executive Board, wrote a resolution for consideration that would remove the restriction denying membership on the basis of sexual orientation alone and would maintain the current membership policy for all adult leaders of the Boy Scouts of America. The proposed resolution reinforces that Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age, is contrary to the virtues of Scouting.”
Opponents such as the Family Research Council and the Texas Pastor’s Council have lobbied the Scouts to keep the Scouts as is. Take for instance, Dave Welch of the Pastor’s Council: “Ultimately, it depends on the moral fortitude of the scouts to uphold their traditional positions and to simply say no. We are who we are. And those who want to take a different position and have an organization that involves homosexuals, go start your own.”
“On My Honor, I Will Do My Best…” How would you choose to finish that ellipses?