Boy Scouts of America to Vote on Excluding Gay Members and Leaders

29 Jan

So maybe you’ve heard, maybe you haven’t, but next week Boy Scouts of America will be voting to change its policy of excluding gay members and leaders from joining its ranks. Today the organization issued a statement stating it is “discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation”.

That official statement from the organization said this:

“This would mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation, but that the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with their organization’s mission, principles or religious beliefs. BSA members and parents would be able to choose a local unit which best meets the needs of their families.”

This change has come about in part due to grassroots efforts from individual BSA chapters urging the organization to reconsider its position. This is profound in that as recently as last July the BSA had reaffirmed its decade old staunch position on the issue calling it the “best policy for the organization”. Quickly after this reaffirmation of values, the organization began losing financial backers.

In September 2012, Boy Scouts Pack 442  in Cloverly, Maryland announced it’s intention to adopt a non- discriminatory policy and admit gay members, however the National Capital Area Council pressured them to take down this statement in order to retain their charter.

Randall Stephenson of AT&T and James Turley of Ernst & Young, two corporate CEOs on BSA’s national board have said that they would work to end the ban. Additionally President Obama and Mitt Romney both voiced support for ending the ban during their campaigns this past election cycle.

Undoubtedly this possible shifting of attitudes comes largely from financial interests, but the result could mean wonderful things for the LGBT community. When an organization as iconic and representative of “American Ideals” as the BSA begins to reconsider its stance on this basic human rights issue, it holds hope for the rest of the country. This is an organization which shapes and influences the lives of many young people, and its ban on gay members and leaders has been a strong statement of the fundamental Christian ideals in this country, which whether we like it or not hold a lot of water in the decision making processes of our country.

If they do decide to change their stance, which is a big if, they could be setting an example for countless other organizations to follow in their footsteps. They would also be a shining light of hope, an example to other grassroots organizations of the change they can effect in this country. It could demonstrate to those who have money and power that the ways in which they chose to yield that influence really does matter. So, I congratulate all those who worked to make this happen, I commend those bakers who pulled their financial support from an organization that refused to value all people equally. People can make a difference in the future of this country, and that is reassuring in and of itself.


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