The Lost Boy Scout Revisited

boy-scoutBy now you’ve likely heard the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) organization has voted to revise its national membership policies to allow openly homosexual boys to join the Boy Scouts, but the ban will remain in force for gay adults.

Last year when the BSA reaffirmed their ban on homosexuals my son chose to resign from Scouting on the grounds that it simply wasn't fair. Talking about the revised policy now he thinks it’s a step in the right direction but he still can’t understand why they continue to discriminate against adults.

In light of this split policy, one of the big questions that has emerged for our family is what happens to an openly homosexual Eagle Scout once he turns 18? After years of participating in Scouting will this young man automatically find himself banned from the organization despite having demonstrated the skills and values necessary to achieve the organization’s highest rank? What happens to “once an Eagle, always an Eagle”?

There are a lot of things my son and I miss about Scouting, but one of the most significant is the way adults would teach the older scouts and the older scouts would teach the younger scouts. The older scouts get to practice leadership while the younger scouts get to learn from peers and see where they’re going as they advance through the ranks. With this mentoring structure in place, what’s the difference between gay leaders and gay scouts?

In his recent op-ed piece on the policy, BSA President Wayne Perry himself pointed to an academic study from University of California, Davis showing there is no connection between sexual abuse and homosexuality. If this is the case, then why did the BSA choose to go only part-way toward eliminating their discriminatory policy?

Roughly 70 percent of all Scout packs, troops, and posts are sponsored by churches or faith-based organizations. Most of these Christian organizations condemn homosexuality but allow gays to be members while not allowing gays to be ordained.

Perhaps you’ve spotted how this policy bears a striking resemblance to the BSA policy that was just approved.

With its heavy reliance on faith-based sponsors (atheists continue to be banned from Scouting) the BSA is unlikely to make further changes to its policy any time soon. The new policy won’t go into effect until January of 2014. In the meantime, I expect we’ll hear a lot about defections from the Boy Scouts from both sides of the argument.

The BSA has put itself in a bad position and will likely suffer the loss of many future scouts before they manage to arrive at a fair, simple policy: everyone is welcome.

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