The Boy Scouts of America are proposing to lift the ban on gay youth in their membership. However, the ban on gay adults will continue.
This proposal, which will be voted on in May, comes after an extensive survey sent out to over 200,000 parents, scouts, and sponsors across the nation on the subject of lifting the ban. On the surface, the survey showed that 61% of respondents supported keeping the ban. But when you break down the demographics, churches and religious institutions support the ban, while most young parents and young people in general oppose it.
Overall, there seems to be a consensus that young boys, regardless of sexual orientation, should have access to the benefits of being a Boy Scout. But again, the same divide crops up between religious conservative groups hoping to maintain a don’t-ask-don’t-tell stance (haven’t we already realized how dehumanizing this kind of policy is?), while younger demographics want open acceptance.
It may seem as though the actual participants should get to decide membership policy – not to mention that this could be a great real-world democratic exercise for the Scouts. But, unfortunately, as usual, money talks. And in this case, since slightly more than half of the BSA’s financial sponsors are conservative religious organizations, their opinion holds greater weight.
Adding to the pressures are groups on both sides of the political spectrum. Progressives have launched a campaign in Indiana to withhold United Way funding from BSA until the ban is lifted, while California’s state Senate is considering making the BSA ineligible for tax breaks in response to the ban. Meanwhile, conservatives have launched their own online petitions and protests in places like Utah.
If the religious conservatives win this May and the BSA continues its ban on all gay members, the battle for equality will have been deferred once again.
But even if the BSA opens its arms to gay youth, the ban on gay adults is still revealing. More than telling young people that their sexuality is accepted and normal, they are merely being told that it is being tolerated because they’re still young.
If we can accept gay youths, why not gay adults to lead them? Are we scared that a gay local troop leader will turn all the neighborhood boys gay?
The only real justice here would be a full and total repeal of the ban, and nothing less should be accepted.