Boy Scouts Of America's Gay Exclusion Policy Appalling
But I may have been too generous. I lost all my respect for the Boy Scouts last Tuesday, when the organization made an appalling decision to reconfirm their policy of excluding gays from joining troops or serving as group leaders.
The policy reaffirmation means that a substantial population of Scouts will have to either leave BSA or spend years in the closet, sacrificing comfort in their own skin for a place in the organization to which they may already have dedicated half their lives. The same goes for gay and lesbian parents, who may have been involved in Boy Scouts as volunteers or troop leaders.
Jennifer Tyrell is one such example. She was a den mother who, because she is a lesbian, was kicked out of the troop she was leading. This slap in Tyrell’s face is bad enough, but considered in combination with the trauma this sudden exclusion will probably cause her seven-year-old son, it’s just plain disgusting.
The anti-gay policy is a direct contradiction of the Boy Scouts’ promise to build character and train young men in “the responsibilities of participating citizenship.” How can an organization build character when it officially endorses ostracism? How can an organization advocate citizenship when it treats a segment of this country’s citizens as second-class?
The policy is also so outdated as to be embarrassing. The Boys and Girls Club welcomes gay Americans, and The Girl Scouts of America has maintained a policy of diversity and non-discrimination for over three decades. Even the U.S. military has finally caved, with the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell last year. In fact, the Boy Scouts released their decision mere days before servicemen and women were allowed to march in uniform in a gay pride parade for the first time in history. Given the now-altered policies of these other institutions, it is shocking that BSA is even allowed to keep up its bigoted antics.
What is perhaps most damaging about BSA’s exclusion policy is its contribution to the problems experienced by gay children and parents, problems for which society often blames sexual orientation itself. Of course, gay parents are going to have a tougher time raising kids if they, like Jennifer Tyrell, are not allowed to take an active role in their children’s activities. Of course, gay kids are going to be socially maladjusted if they are barred from participating in normal youth social activities. America’s homophobes think themselves clever for having “recognized” an inherent problem within the homosexual community, but, really, they are creating it.
However, not every Boy Scout is buying into the exclusion policy. One former Eagle Scout, Christopher Baker, recently returned his medal to the organization, renouncing his membership with an indignant letter stating “I do not want to be associated with the bigotry for which it now stands.”
Baker goes on to say that he hopes that, one day, “BSA stands up for all boys.” Until that day, they are not the Boy Scouts. BSA's membership does not consist of boys. It consists of a subset of boys, those who, and whose parents, are not disgusted enough by BSA’s record of exclusion to get the heck out - a subset of boys who are being taught that bigotry is OK, as long as it doesn’t affect them personally.
Reach Contributor Francesca Bessey here.