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Boy Scouts May Lift Gay Ban, But There’s a Catch

Boy Scouts May Lift Gay Ban, But There’s a Catch

After years of public commentary on their policy of excluding gay members, the Boy Scouts are being dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. At a May meeting in Dallas, Texas, members will vote on a proposal to lift the ban on gay Scouts, allowing anyone to participate in the organization regardless of sexual orientation. It’s big news, but it comes with a catch: gay adults will still be banned from serving as Scout leaders.

The structure of the proposal is a reflection of discussions among policy leaders at the organization, but also the result of an extensive survey sent out to Boy Scouts, family members, adults involved in Scouting and religious groups. The survey results were incorporated into the policy as leaders noted that older adults tended to be less supportive of out gay men and boys in Scouting, while teens and younger adults strongly supported a lift on the ban and the creation of an inclusive organization.

The reaction to this announcement, which was quietly dropped on Friday morning in the midst of a frenzied news cycle, has highlighted how polarized the debate over the exclusion policy has become. LGBQT rights groups and advocates argue that the continued ban on gay adults is wrong, and that in addition to depriving Scouts of potentially great leaders, it sends dangerous messages about homosexuality. Indeed, it would seem to reinforce the common stereotype that gay men are pedophiles interested in preying on children, and that they would take advantage of positions in Scout troops to abuse young boys. Furthermore, it promotes homophobia in society by normalizing the exclusion of gay men from a group that should be open to all.

Troublingly, in a press release about the proposal, the Scouts added a remark suggesting that they don’t understand homosexual kids any more than they do adults: “The resolution also 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.” This would seem to imply that the organization expects a flood of sex-driven gay Scouts flooding troops and events, implying that gay boys aren’t any more capable of making informed choices about their sexuality than gay men.

Some religious groups and conservatives, on the other hand, are angry about the proposal to lift the ban, characterizing it as “caving.” The Boy Scouts clearly view the proposal as a way to meet in the middle, allowing any boy who wants to participate an opportunity to be in the Scouts without attracting the ire of homophobic proponents of a ban on gay adults. They’re worried that extending membership to all men could risk alienating religious groups, many of which sponsor Scout troops. The Mormon church in particular is closely tied with the Boy Scouts, and given its stance on homosexuality, it would be unlikely to maintain a friendly relationship in the wake of a decision to welcome gay members of all ages.

Notably, the resolution does not mention anything about transgender youth, who are currently not permitted to participate in Boy Scouts. While the possible inclusion of gay youth is something to celebrate, the Boy Scouts have a long way to go when it comes to truly being welcoming to all: because any boy, and any man, who meets the ethical standards of the organization should be able to join or become a leader and community supporter, no matter what his sexual orientation is and what gender he might have been assigned at birth.

Related articles:

Conservatives Predict “Mass Exodus” If Boy Scouts Accept Gays

What Boy Scouts Can Learn from Girl Scouts

“Stop Gay Hating,” Texas Lawmakers Tell the Boy Scouts

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Photo credit: vastateparksstaff

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162 comments

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7:17PM PDT on Apr 23, 2013

So close...yet so far away!!

9:01AM PDT on Apr 23, 2013

Grazie.

8:19AM PDT on Apr 23, 2013

thanks

10:51AM PDT on Apr 22, 2013

ty

10:33AM PDT on Apr 22, 2013

This is sad. It's sad that we think we are some kind of advanced society yet we still hold onto to unhealthy beliefs that make some of us less than others. If some of us just perceived it that way, fine. But people actually suffer because of this stupidity. We may be the most advanced primates on the planet, but stupity like this proves that we're still just primates. Dragging our knuckles on the ground and grunting. 'Gays bad'. 'Women bad'. 'Rape good'. 'Guns good'. 'Me good Christian/Muslim/Mormon/etc....'.

10:12AM PDT on Apr 22, 2013

This would be a step in the right direction ONLY if they allowed LGBT scout troop leaders as well as lifting the ban on atheists, agnostics, secular humanists, Wiccans, and Pagans participating in the BSA in any form as well. Right now, the BSA is still allowed to discriminate against these groups as well. This side-stepping is nothing more than the BSA trying to crabwalk around the issue, and we're not buying it for one second! It's all or nothing, people!

And to those of you who still equate being LGBT with pedophilia, get this fact straight: HOMOSEXUALS ARE NOT PEDOPHILES!!!! Period!!!!

9:25AM PDT on Apr 22, 2013

Well done. This kind of discrimination makes no sense. Who can guarantee that there are currently closeted gays in the camps? After all, we have to learn to live with differences. Assume that gays are pedophiles? It makes no sense.
Why do people who claim to be heterosexual, afraid of gays? I can not understand it.

8:51AM PDT on Apr 22, 2013

Maybe they shouldn't worry about the support of the churches....

6:13AM PDT on Apr 22, 2013

They are going to continue to drag this situation out only making themselves look like complete idiots. I sincerely do not understand why they can't just accept these children for who they are!! Why in the world would they be so fearful of a young boy that happens to be homosexual? Do they seriously question their own sexuality that much that they are that uncomfortable around them? Do they seriously believe that these young boys would be behaving inappropriately in a sexual manner just because they happen to be gay? How do the minds of these people serious work...lol...they are just amazing!!

I do see this as promising but still have concern over these potentially young gay boys being treated indifferently by their troop leaders as a result of their lack of true understanding/bigoted thought processes/blatant discrimination. Such good "Christian" values!!! Geezzz.....

5:06AM PDT on Apr 22, 2013

Lift the hate stop the hate and ban the child molesting abusive priests

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