Discriminatory membership policy to be amended, providing an all-inclusive organization.
This last week the Boy Scouts of America considered amending their policy on the ineligibility of gay scouts and leaders to serve as part of the organization. The push to change the policy came from the development of support for gay scouts and several petitions to end the discriminatory policy. Former and current leaders and scouts delivered approximately 1.4 million signatures to the Boy Scouts national headquarters in Texas last week. With this action, the BSA announced that it would begin considering modifying its stated policy on gay scouts and leaders.
During an initial investigation of the story, I was able to obtain comments from our own Spectrum President, Sabrina Kent ’15. She said, “I think it is safe to say that the time has finally come for the Boy Scouts to end the anti-gay ban. Over the years, numerous LGBT children and parents have been discriminated against from participating in the organization.” With the prospects of ending the ban in sight she continued, “at this point, after over 1.4 million people have petitioned for the change in policy, it’s in the Boy Scouts’ best interest to become an all-inclusive organization.” So this week, after the BSA deliberated behind closed doors, the American public expected to receive a decision about the policy from the Boy Scouts of America HQ. Sadly, that wasn’t the case.
The BSA seems to have taken a leaf from our politicians’ book and punted the decision down the field until the BSA National Council Meeting this May. The lack of a decision most likely comes from the financial forces at play behind the BSA –most religious and fundamentalist financial sponsors oppose an end to the ban on gay scouts. Some, like Herndon Graddick, President of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), were dismayed by the news and believe that the Boy Scouts of America have “choos[en] to ignore the cries of millions, including religious institutions, current scouting families, and corporate sponsors, but these cries will not be silenced.” Others, however, believe that the BSA is merely moving to make sure that when the ban is lifted, the transition will be smooth.
The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart writes, “At first blush, it appeared that the BSA was taking a page out of the playbook used by President Obama during ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’”
The President wanted to prove to advocates and naysayers alike that the impact of the repeal of DADT was inconsequential to the force. Capehart clarifies further, saying, “Obama took a more deliberate and ultimately successful path […] The study took months. But the results were what the administration and advocates had hoped. Letting gays serve openly was no big deal.” So will the Boys Scouts of America let go of its (called by some) “archaic” policy, or will they kick the can even further down the road? The nation will know for certain come this May.