We Spleen: The Boy Scouts of America

Anti_Gay_and_Lesbian_movements_signWhen the Boy Scouts of America announced last month that they were officially reconsidering their anti-gay policy, many people lauded the organization for finally joining the 21st century. However, the BSA has now announced that it’s postponing a decision on this archaic, discriminatory policy until May due to an explosion of opposing feelings over “traditional values.” The organization released an official statement on its website:

 [The response] reinforces how deeply people care about Scouting and how passionate they are about the organization. After careful consideration and extensive dialogue within the Scouting family, along with comments from those outside the organization, the volunteer officers of the Boy Scouts of America’s National Executive Board concluded that due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a more deliberate review of its membership policy.

It reinforces how passionate people are? Postponement is due to the complexity of this issue? Are they kidding? What is complex about acceptance? And how is being a bigot the same as acting passionate? The BSA prides itself as being “one of the nation’s largest and most prominent values-based youth development organizations,” its aim to help create “a more conscientious, responsible and productive society.” And the Official Scout Oath explicitly asks that Scouts pledge “to help other people at all times.”

I call shenanigans.

The organization’s unwillingness to stand up to bigotry and prejudice–most of which is emanating from within the organization itself–demonstrates a value system and moral ideology that is anything but what the BSA claims to stand for. It’s been reported that many conservative troops are threatening to leave the organization if the policy is not upheld, and that many believe the animosity between conservative troops and liberal troops will create barriers within the BSA and ultimately disrupt the successful functioning of the organization. Boy Scouts, want to know what will create barriers and disrupt your operation? Institutionalized discrimination.

The Boy Scouts actually have a merit badge for “American Cultures” that requires Scouts to learn about other cultures within our nation. The badge is literally about teaching acceptance of cultural diversity in order to “help Scouts to live in harmony with others.” Hmmmmm.

They also have the “Citizenship in the Nation” merit badge, which requires Scouts to learn how to become good, and aware citizens in order to gain an understanding of what’s best for their country, including the importance of “standing up for individual rights on behalf of all its citizens.” Right.

Looks like someone isn’t getting any badges this year.






  1. I don’t get what all of the hand wringing and dithering is about. The Girl Scouts have done it and guess what? Young girls still join up and masses of people buy their cookies.

    Get with the times!

  2. Of course the issue is complex. You can simplify and vilify those who think differently from you, but that doesn’t actually change the fact that they are complex, multi-faceted individuals with deep beliefs (some reasonable, some not), passions, hopes, and, yes, fears — just like you and me.

    Not everyone who opposes public homosexual relationships oppose private lives. Not everyone who opposes homosexuality wherever it appears does so from a position of hate. Some oppose based on fear. Some based on ignorance. Some based on an inability to reconcile facts with deep, primal beliefs. That doesn’t make them evil, or bad, or excuse unethical actions, but it does make changing one’s stance pretty damn complex and difficult.

    No one is entirely rationale, and it is a complicated and incredibly difficult thing to admit you’ve been wrong. Even harder when you’ve been publicly wrong. And for decades. That takes a stronger soul than most.

    I believe the Boy Scouts, and the rest of the world, will eventually come to place where they are deeply ashamed of their discriminatory practices. And for that, they have my pity.

  3. I have been involved in Girl Guiding in the UK for 13 years. Even longer if you count being a Brownie. Homosexuality – or indeed any sexuality, including bisexuality, pansexuality, asexuality – simply isn’t an issue. It is never even discussed. No one has been barred for being gay, in fact it isn’t even talked about. You could argue that this is no good thing, as maybe the girls aren’t being “educated” about non-heterosexual relationships – but to my mind, they are already aware of this, and the fact that it’s not mentioned suggests it is not an issue, it just “is”, in the same way that being Asian or blonde or a feminist just “is”. If we – a traditionally (small c) conservative, old-fashioned values organisation don’t take umbrage at – shock horror! – gay people being involved in Guiding and Scouting, what right to the American Boy Scouts have to whinge about it?

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