So National Council passed – 62:38 – a resolution stating that a youth who openly proclaims themselves as homosexual cannot be denied membership in a unit solely on that ground.
1) This actually goes beyond “local option”. Regardless of their own policies on the origin or sinfulness of homosexual behavior, a sponsor cannot ban gay or lesbian youth solely on the basis that they are gay or lesbian.
2) Units currently have complete discretion on what kind of behavior on the part of a youth can justify declining a youth’s membership application or membership status in the unit. There’s nothing in the resolution that addressed that and no one’s talked about it. Sexual activity between heterosexual youth is banned, so any such activity between homosexual youth would get them bounced I”m sure. And yes, I’ve seen hetero kids tossed out for that. What other behavior units will or will not tolerate varies from unit to unit.
3) Openly gay/lesbian adults are still forbidden registration. If adults had been included in the policy change it would not have passed. The vast majority of the opposition to this is not a suspicion of adult/youth abuse but the concept that homosexual adults are a poor example of morality for youth. It’ll be a few years before that changes – unless the Mormons and Catholics have a quick change of heart. What permitted this new resolution to pass was a change of heart on the part of the Mormon church, in my estimation.
4) The BSA’s Youth Protection training’s component on youth/youth abuse will doubtless be quickly updated. All Scouters already have to re-take it every 2 years to stay registered, so any new info will get spread around completely in that time frame.
More info here.
Obviously this is not a perfect step – but it’s a big step in the right direction, and I’d rather have this change than no change at all. Major congratulations are due especially to all the gay and bi Scouts who have been fighting for this change for so many years. They rock, and I hope they’re enjoying their victory (although obviously there’s still work to be done).
The ban on gay and lesbian adults participating in scouting is vile, and implies that openly homosexual adults are threatening to children. Although I’m not against compromise as a way of moving forward, it’s clear that what’s being compromised with is bigotry, plain and simple.
Still, I’m very optimistic about the future of gays in Scouts. Once there’s a critical mass of openly gay Scouts who grew up in the Scout program and want to be included in the leadership, I don’t think the ban on adult Scouts will be sustainable.
Right wing leaders have dealt with this change with the charm and gracefulness we’ve all come to expect:
The symbolism of this event can hardly be overestimated. As traditionalist and conservative churches withdraw troop sponsorship, and parents pull their sons, this will split the Boy Scouts Of America just like the homosexuality issue has split mainline Protestant churches.
“The Boy Scouts of America still supports an untenable, unreasonable and unnecessary discriminatory policy by excluding gay leaders and staff members,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “If the Boy Scouts are truly a values-based organization, bigotry can’t be part of the program.”
Speckhardt added, “In addition to ending all anti-gay policies, the Boy Scouts should also open their doors to those without a religious affiliation. Their national policy of discrimination against humanists and atheists, like the anti-gay policy, needlessly shuts out millions of Americans.”