This is a follow-up to Hemant’s recent post about the re-affirmation of Boy Scout discrimination. This issue is well-known, with a 1995 article from The Humanist surveying federal funding of the Boy Scouts, activities by reform group Scouting For All, and Margaret Downey‘s lawsuit against the Boy Scouts.
The Military Association of Atheists & Freethinkers (which I lead) has called for an end to federal support of the BSA:
The Boy Scouts of America holds a Congressional Charter while discriminating against atheists. The BSA ejects openly atheist members and leaders, even those that have reached the highest ranks of the organization. All branches of the military issue an 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. The values, community, and service so fundamental to the BSA would provide an even greater service to the nation if they would promote respect for all beliefs, including atheism. On 12 Jan 09, MAAF joined the American Humanist Association in asking President-elect Obama to reject the title of honorary president of the Boy Scouts - press release.
MAAF admonished many who claim that the Boy Scouts do good work or that the issues are primarily at the national level. It is time to put aside these equivocations and recognize that the idea of the “honorable Boy Scout” is tainted.
MAAF also pointed out that having just one anti-gay Boy Scout organization is primarily a U.S. issue. The international scouting community is generally affirming of gay youth and the Girl Scouts have been supportive as well. The Boy Scout issue seems additionally complicated by the massive numbers and top-level sponsorship of Boy Scout troops by the Mormon church.
One potential solution would be for the (more accepting) Girl Scouts to bring aboard BSA board member James Turley (who discouraged the discriminatory practices), host the dissenting Boy Scout Troops, enlist the international community, and be leaders in the reform effort of their wayward brother organization.