boy scouts

Another win for gay rights appears to be on the horizon. A little over a year ago, the gay-rights community was celebrating the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT), a policy that prohibited openly homosexual persons from serving in the U.S. military. Middle-of-the-road stances like DADT have been popular among government and private institutions alike, but in recent years have buckled under the pressure of a shifting national conscious.

And now one of America’s oldest and largest youth organizations is considering taking a leap in its own stance, from middle to left. The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) was founded in 1910 and has long disallowed the membership of “avowed homosexuals.”

According to its own standards, BSA does not ask for or seek information about an applicant’s sexual orientation, a practice that allows homosexuals to participate secretly. However, the not-so-secret dismissal of a lesbian den leader, Jennifer Tyrrell, as well as the disapproval of an openly gay California teen, has re-focused controversy on the issue.

Many reports indicate that current members welcome the idea of terminating the ban, as such a restriction feels inconsistent with one of BSA’s core principles: respect for all persons. However, there is the possibility that churches, which have a significant impact on sponsorship, would dissociate themselves if the ban was lifted. Additionally, there are some outspoken parents that have repeatedly voiced their discomfort, especially with the idea of their children being supervised by openly gay leaders.

This discomfort is only heightened when one considers that the BSA is still responding to evidence that it failed to properly handle reports of sexual abuse from members.

Considering the all-male make-up of the organization, would you agree that such parental concerns are legitimate? Should the ban stand? Or should it be lifted, as a reflection of BSA’s internal values and the growing national acceptance of gay rights?

-J. Alexander

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