Friday, May 24, 2013

Boy Scouts Take a Half-Step Into the 21st Century

The celebratory announcement of Scouts for Equality,
an organization dedicated to making the Boy Scouts of America
relevant to civilized people.

Yesterday, 61% of the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America voted to overturn its self-imposed ban on openly gay youth being allowed to participate. Sounds like a victory, right? In a way, it is.

But the Boy Scouts of America ("BSA") have only taken a half-step towards equality. Openly gay Scout leaders (adults) are still verboten. As long as the organization tells kids that it's not OK to be a gay adult, then it's telling kids it's not OK to be gay, period. On its face, the new policy shift seems non-discriminatory, but it really sends the message that gayness is something that teens will "grow out of" eventually.

Though it may seem weird to readers here that I care about what the Boy Scouts do at all, I guess I do because I earned the Eagle rank in the 1980s and therefore feel an obligation to use that "Scout cred" to speak up for people mistreated in the organization. So I've signed some petitions. I have good memories of camping, at least, and camaraderie. I remember wearing my 45 Grave t-shirt to Scout camp and exchanging cassettes with other misfit Scouts.

Moreover, the BSA is an organization that has as its honorary leader whomever happens to sit in the Oval Office. That means YOU, Mr. Obama. Also, it's an organization that, like Future Farmers of America, is federally chartered by Congress. That's right. Under Chapter 309 of the U.S. Code, the BSA is a chartered "patriotic organization." Seems like it's about time, then, for them to get on the right side of the Fifth and 14th Amendments.

After the BSA allows openly gay adults to serve with full equality, I hope it's just a slippery slope toward ending the insipid ban on atheists, too.

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