The Boy Scouts of America angered many this year when it decided to retain its anti-gay ban, a decision made by a small unidentified group within the organization.
The decision to still kick out openly gay members has been costly for the BSA, both financially and in PR, especially when placed alongside other recent scandals. Here are six stories that show how the Boy Scouts of America is having a bad year.
1) Intel Ensures No Funds Will Reach Boy Scouts of America — Tech giant Intel, who has never given directly to the BSA but had given $700,000 in 2010 to local scouting troops, confirmed to ThinkProgress recently that, per its corporate giving policy which places an emphasis on nondiscrimination, it would be ensuring that no further funds reached the organization, with Chief Diversity Officer Rosalind Hudnell telling ThinkProgress:
“Due to significant growth in the number of organizations funded, earlier this year we revisited our policies associated with the program, and applied new rigor that requires any organization to confirm that it adheres to Intel’s anti-discrimination policy in order to receive funding.”
2) Former Scouts Return Their Badges – A growing group of Eagle Scouts, angered by the association’s anti-gay platform, started a drive to have members return their Eagle Scout badges. Several of the letters the Eagle Scouts sent along with their badges appear on this blog. One of the letters, in part, reads:
“The BSA’s position has troubled me for many years and I have often thought of giving back my hard-earned medals. As I’ve come to know the pain GLBTQ persons face in our society – and the way the BSA perpetuates that fear and discrimination particularly among the youth – I am deeply saddened by the institutional bigotry that is inconsistent with the values I learned as a Scout.”
3) Scout Troops Defy Anti-Gay Policy — Some groups, determined to keep the positive ideals associated with being a scout alive, have decided to openly defy the ban and initiate a nondiscrimination policy for their local troops, most notably one troop from Framingham.
38 parents of children in Club Scout Pack 12 have signed a letter and sent it to the Knox Trail Council in which they say they are disappointed by the anti-gay policy and noting that they will disregard it in favor of tolerance.
“Pack 12 has taught us that being a scout means being inclusive, supportive, and standing up for what you believe in,” the letter reads. “We do not and never will discriminate on the basis of race, religion or sexual orientation.”
The group urges Knox Trail Council to adopt a similar anti-discrimination measure.
4) Scout Staffers Quit Over Anti-Gay Firing – After Tim Griffin was fired from a Boy Scout camp near Sacramento, California, 10 staff members quit the camp because, while officials claimed the 22-year-old was fired because he refused to follow clothing regulations, the staffers said the firing of the the young Scout was clearly because officials had realized he was openly gay.
5) Allegations that the Boy Scouts of America Shielded Child Abusers – A review of some 1,600 internal files dated from 1971 and 1991 that were obtained by the Los Angeles Times has shown that the organization may, in as many as 400 cases, have turned a blind eye to allegations of child abuse and never reported the offenders, one of whom was identified as having a “life-long” pattern of offending.
The LA Times also claims that while in some cases the BSA acted within the law, there is cause to suspect that its actions in other cases, where the Association appeared to have actively shielded suspected offenders, may have infringed on state law.
So the BSA will throw out gay people for not adhering to what they believe is a strict moral standard but, if these allegations are true, would work to shield child abusers.
6) The BSA Made an Enemy of George Takei — George Takei, our favorite sci-fi stalwart and master of Internet memes, was once a proud member of the Scouts. When earlier this year the Association acted to kick out several members, all because they became aware that said members were openly gay, and despite their long years of service, George Takei took to his blog to voice his protest. Later, he donned his Scout uniform and wore it as a show of solidarity for LGBT scouts in the NYC pride parade alongside a den mother who was kicked out simply because she is a lesbian.
What is interesting is that, while of course the Supreme Court has previously ruled the Boy Scouts of America can, as a private member organization, ban gay scouts, it seems the public’s change in opinion on gay rights and the grass-roots level opposition against the BSA over its continued practice could in time make the BSA’s position untenable.