Boy Scouts Delay Decision About Gay Leaders

The Boy Scouts walked to the edge of the cliff and backed off.

They delayed a decision about whether or not to allow gay scout leaders and gay scouts until May. This non-decision appears to be in response to concern from the organizations’ rank and file.

While opponents of the change say that it would lead to religious parents taking their sons out of the Boy Scouts, proponents claim that allowing gay scout leaders and gay scouts would revitalize the organization.

Both groups agree that membership in the Boy Scouts of America has declined in recent years.

In my opinion, neither side of this argument is acknowledging the impact of the rise of broken families, single parents and families where both parents work, often at more than one job.

I had children who were Boy Scouts. It takes a lot of time to participate, including a large investment of time on the part of parents. I can see how fatherless families would find it difficult to participate fully, since there are quite a number of activities that involve sons and their dads.

I doubt that the Scouts’ refusal to allow gay scout leaders has anything to do with falling numbers of new Scouts. I think the falling number of Scouts is mostly a reflection of the disintegration of the family and the economy, combined.

A New York Times article discussion today’s events says in part:

IRVING, Tex. — The Boy Scouts of America, which reconfirmed last summer its policy banning openly gay people from participation, then said last week it was reconsidering the ban, said on Wednesday that it would postpone a decision once more, until May, as talk of gays in the ranks has roiled a storied organization that carries deep emotional connection and nostalgia for millions of Americans.

An end to the national ban on gays, which the United States Supreme Court said in 2000 was legal free speech by a private organization, would create a huge new moment of risk, experimentation and change people on both sides of the issue said. The proposal floated last week would allow local scouting units to decide membership rules for themselves.

The proposed change created multiple fracture lines of its own. Some supporters of the ban said they feared a wave of departures by conservative church-sponsored troops, while supporters of the change said that scouting, with fewer boys every year donning the tan uniform to work for merit badges, would be revitalized. Scout leaders who favored a complete about-face on gays — prohibiting discrimination everywhere in the organization — said the compromise position by the Executive Board would still leave scouting open to accusations of homophobia by its critics, since discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation would still be allowed locally. (Read more here.)

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  • pagansister

    Unfortunately, no surprise! Sad.

  • Manny

    It will be the death of the organization if they change. The traditional minded people who join the boy scouts far out number those who are sexual revolution types. And all it will take is one sex scandal and the orgainzation will collapse.

  • FW Ken

    Manny, the BSA headquarters being in Irving, the present business has been in the news constantly here in north Texas. But a few months ago, it was all about investigations of sexual abuse within the organization.

    • Manny

      Exactly. And it hasn’t caused the organization to collapse. The dynamic would be quite different if homosexuality was part of the equation. Read my response to Bill below.

  • Bill S

    “And all it will take is one sex scandal and the orgainzation will collapse.”

    It’s naive to think that abusers need the BSA to sanction the admittance of gay scouts and leaders. The abusers have been doing their thing for years. You are confusing men and boys who are honest and therefore openly homosexual with perverts who are dishonest and show no outward signs of being gay. And many abusers are not really gay in the sense that they may even have a wife and children.

    You really should read up on psychology or talk to a psychologist.

    • Manny

      Oh, Mr Bill the know it all who hijacks Rebecca’s blogs. Sometimes I wonder if I’m reading Rebecca’s blog or yours. Your supercillious attitude is really quite obnoxious.

      I never said that abuse couldn’t occur under current rules or that it doesn’t already occur. The organization would collapse because the inclusion of gays involved in a sex scandal would create a dynamic where the perception is not of a lone abuser but of an inherent culture involving the whole organization. Maybe you ought to go to a thrid grade teacher to learn how to read.

  • Peg

    As a mom, I wonder about the practicalities of sleeping arrangements. We would not put our minor children in tents with the opposite sex.

    So how is it going to be fair to a.young gay boy to put him in a tent with other boys? Why would we place a temptation before him that we would not allow for our heterosexual children?
    Think of the tension for both gay and straight boys. I hope they truly consider the children in their decisions. We don’t want to hurt young men of any persuasion.

    • Sus

      Peg, from what I’ve seen, no scout leader sleeps in the same tent with boys who aren’t related to them, gay or not. I don’t think sleeping arrangements will be an issue.

      Maybe it’s different in other councils though.

      • Sus

        Opps, you are talking about gay boys, not the leaders. That is something to think about.

  • Bill S

    Scouting is so much more than just sleeping in tents, barracks, etc. I enjoyed it as a scout and as a parent. Like anything else, there are people who ruin good times for everyone.

    Building character would include respecting one another and one’s personal space and setting boundaries. Gays are not oblivious to the kind of appropriate behavior that is expected from them.

    It saddens me to think that, because of a few perverts who would never draw attention to themselves by being open about their sexuality, respectable gay men and boys should be subjected to discrimination. There are better ways of installing values than to exclude those who might be different. As the father of a gay son who was able to be a scout nonetheless, I would have resented his being deprived of the experience because of his sexuality, which never became an issue.

  • Kamuel

    I was struck by the phrase “risk, experimentation and change,” in the New York Times article. Since our society is just at the beginning of coming to terms with homosexuality after centuries of dysfunction, and homosexuality has yet to even be honorably and intelligently defined in a workable way, it seems premature to be risking our children’s well-being in a rather chaotic and half-baked social experiment. Maybe the grown-ups should start acting their ages and work out their own issues first.