Gay People Will Remain Unaccepted By Boy Scouts
By ERIK ECKHOLM
Published: July 17, 2012
The Boy Scouts of America
has reaffirmed its longtime policy of barring openly gay boys from membership and gay or lesbian adults from serving as leaders. The decision, announced on Tuesday, came after what the organization described as a wide-ranging internal review, and despite public protests.
The exclusion policy “reflects the beliefs and perspectives” of the organization, the Boy Scouts said in a news release from its headquarters in Irving, Tex.
“While a majority of our membership agrees with our policy, we fully understand that no single policy will accommodate the many diverse views among our membership or society,” said the Bob Mazzuca, the chief Scout executive, according to the statement.
Under growing public pressure to reconsider the issue, in 2010 the Boy Scouts formed a committee of 11 “volunteers and professional leaders to evaluate whether the policy was in the best interests of the organization,” the statement said. The committee “included a diversity of perspectives” and engaged in “extensive research and evaluations,” the statement said. But the committee was kept secret until now, and the Scouts declined to reveal its membership or methods.
Gay rights groups, who for years have pressed the Boy Scouts for change, said the organization was out of step with society.
“The Boy Scouts of America is one of the last cultural institutions to have discrimination as part of their policy,” said Richard Ferraro, vice president for communications with the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, noting that the Girl Scouts, the Boys and Girls Clubs, the 4-H Clubs and now even the military forbid discrimination based on sexual orientation.
Prohibiting or ejecting gay children or leaders sends a dangerous message to all children, Mr. Ferraro said, adding, “It’s policies like this that contribute to bullying in schools.”
The official policy reads: “While the B.S.A. does not proactively inquire about the sexual orientation of employees, volunteers or members, we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the B.S.A.”
In 2000, in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court upheld the right of the Boy Scouts to expel a gay assistant scoutmaster, saying that as a private organization, it had the right to decide what values it wanted to inculcate.
In April, Jennifer Tyrrell, a lesbian parent in Ohio, drew national attention when she was forced out as a den mother of her son’s Tiger Scouts group because of her sexual orientation.
Two members of the Boy Scouts’ executive board, James S. Turley, chairman and chief executive of Ernst & Young, and Randall L. Stephenson, chairman and chief executive of AT&T, have recently said they would push to end the exclusion policy.
Mr. Turley declined to comment on the announcement. An AT&T spokesman reissued a previous statement saying: “We don’t agree with every policy of every organization we support, nor would we expect them to agree with us on everything. Our belief is that change at any organization must come from within to be successful and sustainable.”
I didn't even know there was a ban.