It appears that times may be changing for the Boys Scouts of America. According to Reuters published yesterday, this 103-year-old organization is considering lifting the ban on gay members. Reuters reports last year, “The Boy Scouts of America reaffirmed its policy amid heavy criticism from gay rights groups and some parents of scouts.” The executive committee will discuss this policy reversal next week at their board meeting in Texas.
Spokesman Deron Smith emailed Reuters to tell them, “The policy change under discussion would allow the religious, civic or educational organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting to determine how to address this issue.”
Reuters goes on to say, “The Boy Scouts won a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing the organization to ban gays in 2000, but has come under increasing public pressure in recent years from activists. They include Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout with two lesbian mothers, and Jennifer Tyrrell, a lesbian mother from Ohio who was ousted as a Scout den leader and treasurer.”
“This is absolutely a step in the right direction,” said Wahls, who is founder of Scouts for Equality, a group that includes 3,151 other Eagle scouts. Wahls said he would turn to persuading local councils to enact nondiscrimination policies if the change is approved.”
This ban on homosexuality is very controversial and produces much anger, fear, relief or other mental health issues. There is no doubt that America is very much divided on the issue of homosexuality. According to the direct quote from The Pew Forum, “Today, a plurality of Americans (41%) believe that homosexuality is something that people are born with. A slightly smaller portion (35%) believes it is just how some people prefer to live, and a minority (13%) thinks it develops because of the way people are brought up. About one-in-ten Americans (11%) are unsure whether homosexuality is inborn, the result of upbringing or a personal preference.”
Meanwhile across the border the Canadian policy differs dramatically. “Scouting is a worldwide multi cultural movement. We welcome people to membership regardless of gender, race, culture, religious belief, sexual orientation or economic circumstances. Youth members are strongly influenced by the behaviour of adults. We need to be sensitive to the traditions and beliefs of all people and to avoid words or actions which “put down” anybody.” From Scouts Canada. Duty of Care, February 2001, CODE OF CONDUCT FOR ADULTS.” This direct quote was taken from BSA discrimination.org.
BSA discrimination.org reported that, “In 1999 a church contacted Scouts Canada to sponsor a Scout Group composed of gay youth in Toronto.” Furthermore, “In Canada, we are secure enough in our own identities and lifestyles that we don’t have to try to impose them on others,’ Amelia Golden, a lawyer with the League Human Rights of B’nai B’rith of Canada, told the small gathering as an early snow began to fall” (Steven Pearlstein, The Washington Post, November 16, 1999).”
Now we must wait to see how America will respond to the ban of homosexuality in the Boy Scouts.