Kingsport (Tennessee) Newspaper Defends Anti-Gay Boy Scouts with Appalling Editorial

We’re used to seeing letters-to-the-editor and random conservative bloggers and pundits defend the Boy Scouts of America and their decision to ban gays (and atheists) from being members of their organization. Now that the BSA is reconsidering their decision, those people are urging them to stick with their current policy.

What we’re not used to seeing is editorial boards of newspapers defending the old policy. They’re supposed to be the voices of reason leading the way forward. So you have to wonder why the staffers at the Kingsport Times-News (Tennessee) believe that separate but equal is the best way to go. (The article is behind a paywall… maybe they thought it’d be best if only local residents saw this piece):

Because the Boy Scouts of America, founded in 1910, does not accept girls, the Girls Scouts of the United States was founded two years later. And because the Boy Scouts does not accept homosexuals, gays are as free to create their own organization, similarly modeled and based on whatever values they care to incorporate.

As if “gay” values were somehow different than the values already espoused by the BSA… The Boy Scouts have a legal right to do whatever they want, but the argument has always been that if they’re as good of an organization as they claim to be, they shouldn’t discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation (or belief in god). The Girl Scouts have figured this out and they’re doing just fine, thank you very much.

The editorial continues:

Other [non-church-related] troop sponsors will accept gays, which means parents who don’t want their sons associated with those troops will look elsewhere. What will change is the basic makeup of the BSA with straight troops, and gay troops, which worsens schisms within BSA, which means separate local campsites, which means troops will no longer come together at national events. Parents must be willing to trust scout leaders who take their children to remote areas for weekends, even entire weeks, with other troops.

YEAH! If parents want to be bigots, we should defend their right to be bigots… instead of encouraging them to open their hearts and minds a little bit.

And that last sentence is so goddamn offensive… it’s the type of line that only makes sense if you so-very-wrongly assume gay scout leaders must automatically be pedophiles.

If parents are uncomfortable with their kids hanging around gay scout leaders, that’s their problem, not the leaders’ problem. Parents have to trust scout leaders, no matter what their orientation is. Being gay has nothing to do with that outcome.

BSA should not change that message in the name of political correctness. It should remain the arbiter of its own morality and true to its values and not surrender to external pressure.

If the BSA’s values include bigotry, the writers have a point. But the BSA claims to be about building character and training responsible citizens. There’s just no good reason to reject gay troops other than pure hatred.

I agree there’s pressure for them to change it, but a lot of it is internal as well. Public school districts are finally becoming smart enough to ban the BSA from recruiting at their schools because of their exclusionary policies. If the BSA wants to continue as an organization, they’re going to have to make a change. They remain stuck in the past at their own peril.

The BSA’s stance would be indefensible if they excluded black people or Jewish people from their organization. It’s just as bad when they exclude gay people (and atheists).

It’s surprising that it’s taken the BSA this long to consider changing the rules.

But, seriously, what awful human beings would write a defense of bigotry, filled with prejudiced statements of their own?

That they would write this is horrible. That the Kingsport Times-News would go ahead and publish this is nauseating.

I hope their remaining readers cancel their subscriptions immediately.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.