Boy scout charter organizations should have decision-making power


Photo by Emily Franke

Jake Alden

Photo by Emily Franke
Photo by Emily Franke
Boy Scouts of America is an organization that prides itself in its strong morals, instilling in their troops individuality, courage, leadership and honor — all qualities that are supposed to embody the core values of being an American. These are qualities which are supposed to lead members to a righteous path and a morally successful future.
As of January 2013, the Boy Scouts of America National Executive Board announced its deliberation on a potential policy (decision to be announced in May 2013). The policy would change its national membership standards, leaving all membership restrictions based on a potential Scout’s sexual orientation to be reviewed by regional partners that sponsor the program.
Not only is this policy plausible, but it is also applaudable in the fact that it addresses a volatile issue that the organization faces. Even if some charter organizations decline the policy, the matter deserves an adequate amount of attention. However, constitutionally, the BSA National Executive Board doesn’t have to make an absolute decision at all. In fact, the total denial of members based on sexual orientation into BSA is completely permissible by law.
A major concern that accompanies the proposed policy is the high chance that most, if not all, of the charter partners will uphold the existing ban on gay individuals because 70 percent of the charter establishments are backed by religious foundations. Because the ban was created to protect religious ideals to begin with, passing this policy would prove confounding in that most of the individual BSA associations are religious and would presumably vote against allowing any gays into the organization with or without the proposal.
Our nation is currently in a social transitionary period. Things like the legislation around the country promoting pro-gay ideals, or the fact that gay individuals can now enjoy the small triumphs that will eventually lead to a nation sans bigotry has not happened overnight. Anti-segregation legislation, for example, took nearly 20 years to become effective in the United States. With every change that has swept the nation, there have been milestones. And these transition periods have ultimately proved worth it in the end.
Though a blanket statement would rush the inevitable, it would be unnatural for this point in time. Those pushing for the proposal to be overturned in order to force an overall acceptance of Boy Scouts of the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered or questioning) community should be encouraged to maintain their patience. This bill should serve as an encouraging step in the path to acceptance.
On the spectrum of possible reactions, this policy provides a happy medium between two extremes. While it doesn’t completely eradicate the idea of allowing gay troops and leaders into the Boy Scouts organization, it also acknowledges the fact that BSA is a religiously affiliated organization. By giving the charter associations the opportunity to decide on the matter on an individual basis, the problem at hand can be addressed in the least biased of fashions. Parties who deal with the monetary side of the BSA make the most rational advocates to make this morally controversial decision. Even if a minority of the organizations vote to allow gay members into the BSA, this is still a milestone, and it should be embraced by opposing viewpoints.
Even proposing this policy to begin with is slowly but surely paving the road to redemption. Those opposed to the policy are only objecting to the type of concrete. Instead of looking at every single minute detail, the nation should be urged to look at the broad scheme of the issue at hand. This policy, though it isn’t pro-gay, isn’t anti-gay either.
Allowing gays into Boy Scouts shouldn’t bring up any questions of safety, of morals or even of religion. It brings into question the integrity of the very core ideals of a national organization that was established with the explicit purpose of preserving young men’s honor, leadership and individuality.
Upon entering the Boy Scouts of America, every upcoming scout must take an oath which binds him by the laws and values of the Boy Scouts organization, promising “to keep [himself] physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”
The policy proposed by the Boy Scout organization is maintaining all Scouts’ mental strength by not backing down from a challenge and keeping its core values mentally awake by challenging the morality of their continuous discrimination.
As for allowing gays into Boy Scouts as an overall controversy, nowhere does it say that being morally straight entails being sexually straight too.