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They encourage their members to be "trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent,” but apparently Boy Scout Law doesn't quite extend to being tolerant.
After a secret two-year review, the Boy Scouts of America have emphatically reaffirmed their ban on gay scouts.
An 11-member special committee formed by top Scout leaders "came to the conclusion that this policy is absolutely the best policy for the Boy Scouts," the organization's national spokesman, Deron Smith, told The Associated Press.
The anti-gay policy has existed since the BSA's founding, and was upheld in a controversial 2000 Supreme Court decision. As for the reasoning behind the decision, a statement released by the Scouts' chief executive, Bob Mazzuca, maintains that both leaders and Scouts overwhelmingly support the policy:
"The vast majority of the parents of youth we serve value their right to address issues of same-sex orientation within their family, with spiritual advisers and at the appropriate time and in the right setting," Mazzuca wrote. "We fully understand that no single policy will accommodate the many diverse views among our membership or society."
That's an interesting perspective.
Here's another little gem - for a time, the BSA website stated that “Boy Scouts of America believes that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the obligations in the Scout Oath and Scout Law to be morally straight and clean in thought, word, and deed... As they continue in the program, all Scouts are expected to take leadership positions. In the unlikely event that an older boy were to hold himself out as homosexual, he would not be able to continue in a youth leadership position.”
This wording was removed from the website in February in 2010, probably because it’s ridiculous (and beyond homophobic) to suggest that gay young adults not be capabale of holding leadership positions.
One of the most high-profile cases that's created controversy involves Jennifer Tyrrell, the mother of a 7-year old Cub Scout who was removed from her position as den leader because she is gay (according to the Scout handbook, women can act as den leaders, but gay adults cannot participate in the program).
The online petition site Change.org has collected more than 300,000 signatures of people who are urging the Scouts to reinstate Tyrrell and abandon their exclusion policy. Looks like that's not going to happen.
bigotry exclusion policy legal? Unfortunately, yes.
Because the BSA is a private institution, that means it has the right to define its membership as it chooses. But just because it’s legal, doesn’t mean it’s right.
What do you think of the BSA's "no gays allowed" policy?