After the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” by the United States military, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) are also considering repealing their ban on gays. But for now, no gays are allowed as scouts or as adult scout leaders.
The BSA says it “believes that a known or avowed homosexual is not an appropriate role model of the Scout Oath and Law.” When reciting the Scout Oath, boys pledge to be “morally straight.”
“Requiring the BSA to accept a member whose homosexuality contradicts the organization’s oath, requiring members to be ‘morally straight,’ would force members to associate with homosexuals against their moral beliefs,” argued the scouts in BSA v. Dale, the 2000 Supreme Court case which upheld the scouts’ right to exclude homosexuals.
The BSA claimed to worry that homosexual scout leaders would try to be physically sexual with scouts.
“The policy should read no sexual molesters, not no gays,” said Billy “Equality” Bradford of “Get Equal,” a national civil rights organization. “Many men, like Jerry Sandusky, molested boys, but were heterosexual.”
In Boy Scouts, there are likely already many gay members and parents, but individual troops can and sometimes do choose to overlook it.
The BSA organization is considering changing the rule so that individual troops could choose whether they should allow gays to join.
“I think that Boy Scouts should get a vote in their troop,” said Boy Scout Travis Engstrom about letting gays join the BSA.
As a result of the present policy of the BSA, homosexual boys have to hide their sexual preference and “stay in the closet,” so as to not deviate from the policy.
“We as humans shouldn’t have to keep our mouth shut about who we love,” said Bradford. “These scouts are not only learning about leadership, but also that their feelings are wrong.”
The BSA argues that it is a private organization that should be allowed to run the way it sees fit. The BSA has “the freedom of a voluntary association to choose its own leaders,” said George Davidson, a past lawyer for the BSA.
The BSA was founded in 1910 and is more than a century old. There has been a religious connotation in the BSA policies from the beginning, which may interfere with any secular and non-religious agenda. Many consider that fundamentalist Christian theology is preventing gays from joining.
“Just as ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ has been relegated to the trash heap of historical intolerance, just as marriage equality will soon be a reality, one day we will no longer have to discuss gay rights and we’ll focus only on human rights,” said Bradford.