Boy Scouts

July 17, 2012; Source: New York Times

Through a statement released Tuesday, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) announced that it will not change its membership policies, which means that the nonprofit organization will continue discriminating against children and youth who happen to be gay. The decision to keep the exclusionary policy was reached by a committee after a two-year process that had been spurred by increasing public pressure for BSA to openly welcome gay scouts and leaders.

According to the statement, the Boy Scouts gathered a “special committee of volunteers and professional leaders” which “included a diversity of perspectives and opinions” and came to the conclusion that it is in the best interest of the organization not to change their policy that excludes some young people.

“The Boy Scouts of America is one of the last cultural institutions to have discrimination as part of their policy,” Richard Ferraro, vice president for communications with the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, told The New York Times. Ferraro pointed out that the Girl Scouts, the Boys and Girls Clubs, the 4-H Clubs, and the U.S. military forbid discrimination based on sexual orientation. He is concerned that BSA’s stance sends a dangerous message to all children and can “contribute to bullying in schools.”

Clearly anticipating criticism, BSA Chief Scout Executive Bob Mazzuca said in the statement that “[W]e fully understand that no single policy will accommodate the many diverse views among our membership or society.”

What is hard to understand is how an organization that touts itself as being “the nation’s foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training, which helps young people be ‘Prepared. For Life,’” could perpetuate a policy that condones homophobia and bigotry. What kind of life are they preparing our children for? What values are they imparting? Certainly not the intrinsic worth and dignity of all human beings. Certainly not equality and tolerance. – Erwin de Leon