Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Boy Scouts To Discuss Change Of Policy Towards Gays

Yesterday on Facebook The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) official site released a statement found on their website concerning membership policy which may change their stance towards the LGBT community.

“Currently, the BSA is discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation. This would mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation, and the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with each organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs. BSA members and parents would be able to choose a local unit that best meets the needs of their families."[1]

    This policy would allow local charters to continue to ban individuals based on their sexual orientation, but also opens it up to allow homosexual teens and adult leaders to enjoy the Scouting program through those charters that do not implement such a policy.  This has come after much pressure from sponsors to change their policy towards sexual orientation and membership.  Most recently Intel, The BSA's largest corporate sponsor, would no longer give donations to any organization that does not adhere with its nondiscrimination policy.  In 2010 they had given over $700,000 to the BSA[1].  Other organizations who have recently stopped donations include UPS, Levi Strauss, and CVS/Pharmacy.[2]

    This policy is similar to the Washington State same sex marriage law which does not require any religious organisation to accommodate same sex marriages, while allowing same sex marriages to be performed and recognized in the State of Washington.[4]

    In the replies to this announcement on Facebook[5] there were many who showed their disapproval of this action.  Among them were some Eagle Scouts, at least one of which declared that he relinquishes all association with the BSA, including his Eagle Scout Rank.  Others ridiculed the BSA for caving in to pressure from society, losing their moral compass, and being of the devil.  Many also cited part of the Scout Oath[6] which says "To keep myself...morally straight." alluding to a need to be heterosexual.  Other opponents of the change exclaimed, in often heated polemics, over the next step of Boy Scouts not needing to have morals at all now, and that more pedophiles would easily enter the organization.

    Many others replied with rave acclamation of this near reversal of policy, claiming that it was about time that they stopped discriminating, also citing the Scout Oath "To help other people at all times" and that "To keep [oneself]...morally straight" means to not discriminate or be intolerant of others.  There are those that will now consider joining and supporting the BSA and having their children also attend.   But not to be one upped on the name calling and jeering, there were plenty of supporters shouting out the word "bigots".

    There are also those that point out the BSA had problems with pedophiles while the anti-gay policy was in place and that being gay does not equate to being a pedophile.  Also, the BSA is not a "Christian" organization, but a religious one; that although God is an intricate part of their organization, no definition of God is made.  One person also pointed out that to be morally straight is explained in the Scout Handbook with no mention of sexual orientation, but rather "To be a person of strong character, your relationships with others should be honest and open. You should respect and defend the rights of all people."[7]

[1] http://www.scouting.org/MembershipPolicy.aspx
[2] http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2012/09/21/891721/intel-clarifies-that-no-donations-will-be-made-to-any-boy-scouts-troop-that-discriminates/?mobile=nc
[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boy_Scouts_of_America_membership_controversies#Loss_of_support
[4] http://www.sos.wa.gov/elections/initiatives/referendum.aspx?y=2012
[5] https://www.facebook.com/pages/Boy-Scouts-of-America/113441755297?fref=ts
[6] http://www.scouting.org/sitecore/content/scoutparents/scouting%20basics/what%20scouting%20is/scout%20oath%20and%20law.aspx
[7] http://usscouts.org/advance/boyscout/bsoath.asp

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