Today I am happy to take part in a blogosphere-wide protest against the discriminatory policies of the Boy Scouts of America. I was never in scouting. Well, I went to the Cub Scouts for two weeks at a Mormon church when I was a kid, didn’t like it and didn’t stick with it. But I have many friends who loved it and got a great deal out of it. Unfortunately, many of them would never have been allowed to join the scouts at all if they had revealed that they were either gay or atheist. And that’s just plain wrong.
The BSA is a private organization, which is why the Supreme Court has upheld their right to discriminate. But if they want to be a truly private organization, they should give up the many forms of government endorsement and support that they receive. The Secular Coalition for America spelled out some of those forms of support in July:
Some of the support the BSA receives from the government are:
- The US Code authorizes the Secretary of Defense to lend supplies and equipment and transportation for Boy Scout events.
- All branches of the military issue a promotion (to E2 or E3) for Eagle Scouts, the highest Boy Scout rank. This constitutes discrimination in hiring by the military as well as government approval of the Boy Scouts’ discriminatory policies.
- Equal Opportunity regulations in the military explicitly prohibit support of organizations that discriminate. Yet there is a close collaboration between the military and the Scouts. Department of Defense Instruction 1015.9 directs the Secretary of the Army to the Executive Agent for all components of the DoD to promote scouting among military families as directed by the President.
- The U.S. President traditionally serves as the honorary President of the Boy Scouts of America, a tradition which President Obama has continued.
- In early 2005, Congress passed a resolution expressing a sense of the Congress that the Department of Defense should support BSA activities through the use of military personnel, federal land use, and other assistance for their massive Jamborees. The 2005 Jamboree cost taxpayers approximately $8 million.
- In 2008, Congress voted to pass the “Boy Scouts of America Centennial Commemorative Coin Act” (H.R. 5872). The bill mandated that the U.S. Mint create and sell as many as 350,000 one dollar coins commemorating the Scouts’ centennial in the year 2010. A ten dollar surcharge on each coin goes directly to the Boy Scouts of America, who will net as much as $3.5 million in the deal.
Millions of dollars in taxpayer funds are being used to support an organization that demeans and discriminates against young people merely for being gay and for not believing in God. And it needs to stop, immediately.