The Boy Scouts of America have a “scout law” stating that a Boy Scout must be “trustworthy, courteous, kind, cheerful and brave,” to name just a few required qualifications. Shockingly enough the word “homophobic” does not seem to fit in with the rest.
In early February, the BSA was supposed to release an announcement regarding the current ban on gay members. In 2000, the United States Supreme Court upheld the BSA’s right to ban gay members, a decision that was met with much protest. The relentless protests, which included losing major sponsors such as United Parcel Service, Inc. and falling recruitment numbers, may actually pay off if the board finally decides to act.
Since 2012, the BSA’s statements went from fully supporting the ban, to considering the option of letting troops decide on an individual level as to who would be allowed to join. Deron Smith, the BSA’s spokesman, stated that “there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation, and the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with each organization's mission, principles or religious beliefs.”
While this would not be a perfect solution, it would be a better option than the one currently in place, and one can only hope each troop would then make the right decision and allow all boys into their troops regardless of sexual orientation.
An official meeting was held on Feb. 6 and it was expected that an announcement would be made at the end of the gathering, either for or against such a change. Many looked toward the BSA’s recent meeting with hopeful anticipation, only to be let down by the announcement that any official statements will be pushed back until May.
On Feb. 3 President Barack Obama said during an interview with CBS’s Scott Pelley, that he supported lifting the ban, adding that, “My attitude is that gays and lesbians should have access and opportunity the same way everybody else does in every institution and walk of life.”
On the other side of the spectrum is Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, who is a spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The conference does not support such a change and released a statement saying, “The bishops hope the Boy Scouts will continue to work under the Judeo-Christian principles upon which they were founded and under which they have served youth well.”
Yet within the BSA’s oath and laws, there is a reference to God, but not to the Judeo-Christian sect specifically. Within the oath it is stated that, “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times.” If the BSA truly honors this oath, and wants to continue to uphold such ideas, then such a change is not only positive, but also necessary.
I do not believe the BSA is a terrible program; it teaches children valuable lessons they can carry on throughout their lives. But if the group wants to live up to its laws and oath, it needs to accept any and all of those who want to stand within its ranks.