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Boy Scouts Should Eliminate Heterosexuality From Membership Requirements

Ashley Yang |
February 7, 2013 | 3:49 p.m. PST


The Boy Scouts of America is reconsidering its ban on openly gay membership. (USAG-Humphreys, Creative Commons)
The Boy Scouts of America is reconsidering its ban on openly gay membership. (USAG-Humphreys, Creative Commons)
Although gay rights have always been prominent on the social reform agenda, the recent wave of legal recognitions gays have gained, such as the right to marry in several states, have greatly increased the momentum for change in exclusionary organizations such as the Boy Scouts of America.

Since the national governance of the Scouts announced its reconsideration of the blanket ban on openly gay members and troop leaders in favor of allowing local troops to determine their policy on sexual orientation, parents, religious leaders and even the president have been involved in a bitter debate on the subject that has invoked discussion of First Amendment rights, values, tradition and even commercial interest.

The discourse on homosexuality, as well as on general exclusionary policies pursued by the Boy Scouts, has been ongoing for decades. It reached its highest point in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, in which the Supreme Court upheld, in a 5-4 decision, the Boy Scouts’ First Amendment right to expressive association. The Scouts’ oath includes a vow to “keep oneself morally straight,” and just months before after an exhaustive, two-year committee review, it was concluded that “morally straight” equates to a “straight” sexual orientation. Why the sudden change of heart to reconsider the exclusionary policy, no one is quite certain.

There can be no doubt, however, that the purpose of scouting is to instill positive morals in the organization's membership. In fact, the Scouts’ own website claims that their mission is to prepare boys for life. Teamwork, leadership, honesty and resilience are values gained from scouting that transcend heteronormative boundaries. Boys, gay or straight, will all grow up to be members of the same society, and all men will require strength of character to be successful actors within that society, making the choices that enable their surroundings to prosper. When individuals who believe that since homosexuality is a socially delinquent behavior that gays are not active participants in society, they simply aim to "other" gays, acting as if their differences are irreconcilable with social norms. They then base their homophobic arguments for exclusionary measures on this idea.

Never mind that gay boys have been participating in the Scouts for decades. The organization hans’t been struck by lightning for condoning moral perversion. In fact, the Boy Scouts of America are still standing strong and continue to accomplish its mission to build strong young men for the future, year after year.

The challenge against inclusion is posed mainly by Evangelical Christian leaders, most famously the Church of Latter-Day Saints and conservative political organizations, such as the Family Research Council, which ran an ad in USA Today urging the Boy Scouts to “show courage and stand for timeless values.” But in this case, “timeless values” actually translates to entrenched homophobia, and the nebulous concept of “courage” is used to attack the social forces taking us beyond the heteronormative standard of sexual orientation. But the existence of homosexuality in society, as well as the gay revolution for equality, are indisputable facts, and gay boys should not be denied a valuable opportunity for self-improvement by the outcries of a myopic few.


Reach Contributor Ashley Yang here.



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