The Boy Scouts of America, one of the nation’s largest private youth organizations, is actively considering an end to its decades-long policy of banning gay scouts or scout leaders, according to scouting officials and outsiders familiar with internal discussions.
If adopted by the organization’s board of directors, it would represent a profound change on an issue that has been highly controversial — one that even went to the US Supreme Court. The new policy, now under discussion, would eliminate the ban from the national organization’s rules, leaving local sponsoring organizations free to decide for themselves whether to admit gay scouts.
This is really great news. For years now, the BSA has lagged behind the rest of the country on this issue, due in part to the massive amount of money donated to the organization by the Mormon and Catholic churches. Many people in the BSA leadership are concerned that allowing gay boys into the BSA would cause them to lose their funding. I’m not condoning their choices, but from their perspective, either they keep some boys out of the program or they risk ruining it for everybody.
That said, I don’t believe this goes far enough. Allowing individual troops the ability to choose if they want to admit gay scouts means that many troops will choose not to allow gay scouts. A nationwide mandated non-discrimination policy would go much further toward fixing this issue in the right way. But considering the funding issues the BSA has, I think this is a good compromise for now.
Of course, all this is hypothetical, because the BSA hasn’t done anything yet. But I think the fact that they’re even considering this move is a good first step. The next thing to do is to mandate the inclusion of LGBT boys, and do the same for atheists and the nonreligious.