Not Good Enough, Boy Scouts

Wood_badge_regalia_2The Boy Scouts of America just don’t get it.

Since last July, the Ms. Blog has been noting the BSA’s push-pull decision-making about its anti-gay policy (which was rubberstamped by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 2000 decision. Exactly nine months ago, we published this post about how the Boy Scouts’ leadership had plenty to learn from the leadership of the Girl Scouts of the USA–which has welcomed a transgirl, let alone lesbian Scouts and leaders.

Then, in January, we almost started to clap for the BSA when they decided to reconsider their policy. “But until the organization institutes a national policy to end LGBT discrimination, we can’t give it a full merit badge,” we wrote.

When the BSA decided to postpone the decision, we were fully angry at them again. But heartened by Ellen DeGeneres’ full-on rip against the discriminatory organization. We fully agreed with her for saying,

They’re trying to teach kids to be leaders. And the more that we teach people how to accept people for who they are, the more self-confident they’ll be and the better leaders they’ll become.

And now, this: It’s been reported that the BSA executive committee has proposed that the organization drop its ban on gay scouts, and will present the proposal at a May meeting in Dallas. Good news? Yeah, if it wasn’t combined with the rest of the proposal: that the Boy Scouts not drop their ban on openly gay and lesbian scoutmasters!

James Dale, the former Eagle Scout and assistant troop leader who was kicked out of the Scouts in 1990 for being gay and whose 1992 lawsuit famously made it to the Supreme Court in 2000, is having none of it:

This proposal continues to send a destructive message, offering the veneer of acceptance while still communicating that being gay is immoral. Fair-minded Americans will not again welcome the Scouts until they stop discriminating.

No, we won’t. We won’t put our sons into scouting. We’ll keep trying to eliminate nonprofit tax breaks for Boy Scouts. We’ll keep calling this policy exactly what it is: homophobic discrimination.

It won’t protect Boy Scouts from pedophilic predators, just as the Catholic Church’s celibacy policy hasn’t kept predators from the priesthood. It certainly won’t teach Scouts acceptance and leadership, or how to respect individual choices rather than enforce religious values on young men in a non-secular organization.

We can’t celebrate the “allowance” of gay scouts until homophobia is banned from all aspects of Boy Scouts of America. Once again, no merit badge.

Photo of Boy Scouts of America training neckerchief, woggle (to fasten the neckerchief) and hat, from Wikimedia Commons


Michele Kort is senior editor of Ms. She is the author of Soul Picnic: The Music and Passion of Laura Nyro and coeditor (with Audrey Bilger) of Here Come the Brides: Reflections on Lesbian Love and Marriage.