Boy Scouts Look Set to End Ban on Gay Scouts But Not Gay Leaders

The Boy Scouts appear set to end their ban on gay scouts, Reuters reports:

BsaIf the vote is approved, "no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone," Deron Smith, the organization's spokesman, told Reuters.

Smith noted that the decision drew from three months of research, surveys and discussions and was "among the most complex and challenging issues facing the BSA and society today."

The AP writes:

Under pressure over its longstanding ban on gays, the Boys Scouts of America is proposing to lift the ban for youth members but continue to exclude gays as adult leaders.

The Scouts announced Friday that it would submit this proposal to the roughly 1,400 voting members of its National Council at a meeting in Texas the week of May 20.

The resolution must still be ratified by the organization's board in May.

UPDATE:

TyrrellJennifer Tyrrell, lesbian Scout leader ousted as her 7 year-old son's den leader via letter on April 17, 2012, released this statement today:

"One year after sending a letter ousting me as my son's leader, the Boy Scouts are once again forcing me to look my children in the eyes and tell them that our family isn't good enough," said Ohio mom Jennifer Tyrrell. "My heart goes out to the young adults in Scouting who would be able to continue as scouts if this is passed, but then be thrown out when they reach the age to become leaders."

GLAAD added:

"Yet again, the Boy Scouts of America has failed its members, corporate sponsors, donors and the millions of Americans who agree that the time to end discrimination in Scouting is now," said Rich Ferraro, Vice President of Communications at GLAAD. "By refusing to consider an end to its ban on gay and lesbian parents, the Boy Scouts have missed an opportunity to exercise leadership and usher the organization back to relevancy. We're living in a culture where, until every parent and young person have the same opportunity to serve, the Boy Scouts will continue to see a decline in both membership and donations."

Comments

  1. Jake says

    IT is amazing they are even considering lifting either ban. BSA is an extremely conservative organization largely supported and hosted by Mormons and Southern Baptists.

  2. woody says

    oh… that’s bad.
    sends a very bad message to gay kids who want to be scouts: “you are going to grow up to be someone who isn’t valuable and isn’t welcome here.”

  3. TampaZeke says

    Wow, leave it to the Boy Scouts to come up with the ONE solution that is more offensive than the original problem. Now they want to let gay kids in while they continue to promote the idea that gay adult males are pedophiles. That’s a very unhealthy environment for gay boys.

  4. Francis #1 says

    Honestly, this is offensive. It’s really not acceptable whatsoever. They’re still saying, categorically, being gay is wrong and that being gay is not ideal, and non-heterosexual men are unfit to be leaders and be around children because we’re a threat. So non-heterosexual boys in the Scouts are still going to be receiving the message that there is something wrong with them, and that gay men aren’t anything to look up to.

    Also even if the Scouts do lift the ban on gay kids, that doesn’t necessarily mean the atmosphere is going to be a healthy one for these children. It almost assuredly wont be.

    Oh well, we shouldn’t have expected much more than this. Forever a backwards organization.

  5. JohnAGJ says

    Probably not a bad baby step for such a conservative group. Kind of surprising actually. Yet banning gay leaders sends a terrible message to any gay scouts as well as everyone else. As long as the ban remains against either I’d say efforts should continue to boycott the BSA and end all public subsidies of this group. They have the right to discriminate as they please bein a private organization, but not on my dime.

  6. bobbyjoe says

    How very, very, very interesting that this is the exact same dynamic (i.e., “we’ll let them belong but they can’t be leaders”)that the Mormons had towards blacks until they started to get their a** sued back in the 1970s.

    The leadership of the LDS church (which is a huge force in the BSA today) always seems to be entrenched in bigotry; they just seem to move their loathsome behavior toward one minority group to another.

  7. Jack says

    That’s a tough one. In the long run, of course, the hypocrisy can’t hold up. On the other hand, if the only way they can go the whole way is to split in two, that’s hard to say no to. Perhaps the then openly gay scouts can mobilize within the ranks and force it the rest of the way open.

  8. GregV says

    They probably imagine that heterosexual, religious (especially Mormon) scoutmasters can exert influence on gay kids as well as non-religious kids to become heterosexual Mormons, but that a gay leader (as well as an atheist or agnostic leader) could influence the kids in the “wrong” way.
    Obviously, nobody can influence anyone to be gay or not to be gay, but I think too many of them are not bright enough to understand that.
    They may HOPE that the kids (including the gay kids) can grow up to see gays as monsters (or at least “losers”), and that would be harder with a sympathetic or gay scoutmaster who might prove the notion wrong.

  9. GregV says

    They probably imagine that heterosexual, religious (especially Mormon) scoutmasters can exert influence on gay kids as well as non-religious kids to become heterosexual Mormons, but that a gay leader (as well as an atheist or agnostic leader) could influence the kids in the “wrong” way.
    Obviously, nobody can influence anyone to be gay or not to be gay, but I think too many of them are not bright enough to understand that.
    They may HOPE that the kids (including the gay kids) can grow up to see gays as monsters (or at least “losers”), and that would be harder with a sympathetic or gay scoutmaster who might prove the notion wrong.

  10. KT says

    Wow, way to do things in the worst way possible Boy Scouts. This still has to pass the 1400 member council so that is extremely iffy. Plus, gay parents still can’t participate. Worst of all, now corporate sponsors will probably start giving again thinking the ban will be gone.

  11. KT says

    Wow, way to do things in the worst way possible Boy Scouts. This still has to pass the 1400 member council so that is extremely iffy. Plus, gay parents still can’t participate. Worst of all, now corporate sponsors will probably start giving again thinking the ban will be gone.

  12. says

    This change continues to perpetuate the bigotry and ignorance linking homosexuality with pedophilia. It’s a form of bullying and it promotes bullying.

    Imagine being a gay kid in a camp full of heterosexual kids and troop leaders who are told that they are superior to gays. How stupid are BSA? No one should trust their kids under their care.

  13. HadenoughBS says

    It’s all or nothing, BSA. You can’t cut homophobia with a knife and think it’s acceptable. This new policy is NOT going to work for the GLBT community.

  14. Rob says

    Apart from the absurdity and offensiveness of barring gay adult leaders, the statement of the new rule is still a problem even for youths, as it says “on the basis of sexual orientation or preference ALONE”. There is no reason to include the word “alone” here unless they are allowing themselves the option to exclude members based on a combination of sexual orientation and one or more other factors. Which is also offensive. “Alone” does not belong here.

  15. Alex Parrish says

    Fail. Total. Fail. It is hard to believe that they could actually come-up with a solution that is probably worse than the one they are in. The message this sends to young potential scouts — all of them, but especially GLBT ones — is disgusting. This is an insult.

  16. Buster says

    Yep. Making the anti-gay message even more explicit — “hey kid, it’s ok if you’re a homo now, but when you’re grown up, you’re gonna be a disgusting pervert who can’t be near children.”

    What an amazing bullying message to send to the gay youth of America! That should make the suicide figures jump.

  17. Jack says

    We may not like all of it, but this is still more than a “baby” step — it’s really quite a big, not at all easy — and there’s no turning back. If you want people to change, you have to give them credit for the change they are able to make. That’s just science.

  18. says

    As Karl Frisch tweeted, “Can you think of another youth org that wouldn’t welcome with open arms its former participants as adult volunteers?”
    Mike
    (youthallies {dot} com)

  19. Joe in Ct says

    Yes, this is offensive, but it does represent an important admission that their policy of excluding gays is morally wrong and indefensible. When I was a scout, I frankly couldn’t have cared less whether my fellow scouts or leaders were gay. No doubt many of them were, like me also gay. We didn’t know the ban existed.

    Personally, I got a lot out of scouting, so I sincerely hope this partial modification of their ban is accepted by their voting members and their board. I’d like to see every boy (gay or not) have access to the scouting experience, so I applaud this incremental change. The exclusion of gay parents and former scouts as leaders is sad, old baggage that will undoubtedly be eliminated too, in time.

  20. Dave says

    I think this is definite progress. Youngsters are much more easily damaged psychologically than adults, so I think removing the stigma for gay kids is way more urgent than letting in gay adult leaders. When the current crop of gay scouts reach adulthood, the idea of throwing them out will be seen to be as stupid as it is and the whole antique mindset will finally fade away.

  21. Buster says

    I disagree, Joe in Ct. I don’t want to see ANY boy or young man (but particularly one who is or might be gay) involved with an organization that espouses discrimination against people for their sexual orientation. You may not have known about the ban, but many others did and do. I don’t doubt that scouting offers benefits to its members, but I suspect that a parent can find other places for their son to learn teamwork and a sense of community where “community” doesn’t come with an asterisk. The Boy Scouts claim to teach morality, but they still only offer it up with a dark smear of bigotry and shame.

  22. Francis #1 says

    Younger parents and teens oppose the policy but the overwhelming majority of parents support the gay ban, based on the findings the BSA released on their “study” they released a few months back. They fished for negative responses and got them except on one thing—not banning a gay child from a Eagle Scout badge he earned.

    The findings also said that discriminating based on sexual orientation wasn’t seen as OK but discriminating based on “behavior” was. So it’s basically more of the same as long as we’re sexless, we’re OK attitude. Our orientation isn’t the issue, it’s the fact we have sex with the same sex.

    Has stigma truly been removed here? Most parents are still anti-gay in the Scouts. And the Scouts clearly don’t feel homosexuality is really acceptable. The message has gone from being banned outright to you can join us as a second class citizen. It’s gone from complete demonizing to a little bit less demonizing.

    We’ll see if this petition is actually accepted by the voting members. There’s still all the chance in the world the entire ban will remain in place.

  23. LCR Jay says

    I’m so sick of this. If the BSA doesn’t want gay members or leaders, then they shouldn’t be forced or pressured to allow it. Why is this even still an issue? Didn’t they go to court on this already…and didn’t the court rule that – as a private organization – they have the right to exclude whoever they wanted to, based on whatever they wished? So silly. Fighting tooth and nail to be included in an organization that doesn’t want you there seems a bit silly to me. That’s like homosexuals demanding that they be welcomed in church (and I think that’s coming next.) Move on.

  24. LCR Jay says

    As a Log Cabin Republican, I know that what we need to do is respect differences of opinion. BSA doesn’t want gay leaders, so we shouldn’t force them to accept gays.

    Just like my family doesn’t want a gay son so I respect their difference of opinion and stay hidden away so that I don’t embarrass them.

    After all, there’s no irony at all in my comments about wanting to be a part of a group that doesnt’ want us, when I’m a Republican myself. Because that’s different. Because one day the GOP might actually accept me. Not yet, that’s for sure. But one day.

    Maybe then my family will welcome me back, but not if you liberal activist leftists force them.

  25. Rich says

    At its core, the Boy Scouts is a paramilitary organization. When it was founded, women had no place in the military. That policy has evolved over a century and several wars. BSA may be on the same evolutionary path with respect to gays, but their situation is probably closer to a slaveholding society saying OK, we will now stop enslaving the offspring of slaves, but we’ll keep the ones we have. As far as the world has come on those issues, this is too little, too late.

  26. LCR Jay says

    Being impersonated with some bitter, cynical remark only suggests to me that my previous comment must have *really* gotten under the skin of the copycat to the point where they needed to lash out…AND…that they didn’t have the words (or the nerve) to instead counter my comment with a real response.

    Heh.

    You know you’ve made an impression and officially “arrived” at Towleroad when you’ve pissed off someone to the point where they seek revenge by trying to be your very own “Mini-Me!” 😛

    **luvin’ it**

  27. LCR Jay says

    Not loving it; my parents still having me for a son.

    But I’m gonna pretend that I really stuck it to you pro-Equality liberals, because that way I can pretend that my fellow republicans love and respect me. Of course, they don’t.

    Which is why it’s so funny that an anonymous Log Cabin Republican like myself made the comment about “Fighting tooth and nail to be included in an organization that doesn’t want you there seems a bit silly to me.”

    I remember when CPAC didn’t want us, and how the GOP just reaffirmed their stance against gay marriage. But I refuse to acknowledge my own hypocrisy.

    Instead, I’ll continue to swing right and hope that one day I can show up at my parent’s house without my father drawing his shotgun and telling me to get my wussy gay heiney off of his porch.

    Yes. It’s so stupid for gays to want to be included in an organization that doesn’t want them. But that doesn’t apply to us gay republicans. You liberals should take note that the GOP is making leaps and bounds and will one day almost tolerate our presence. So, such on THAT impersonator!!

  28. LCR Jay says

    Did you also notice how I pretended that the BSA are a private organization despite the fact that they do indeed receive public funding?

    That’s something we gay republicans do best – we ignore the facts that don’t suit our talking points. We also like to pretend that it’s the fault of liberals that our families wish they’d “gone all liberal” decades ago and just had that abortion, after all.

  29. LCR Jay says

    Clearly whomever is impersonating me is very threatened by what I wrote. And I fail to see how there’s any comparison to gays wanting to be in the scouts and gay men like me being Republicans. The GOP is not remotely anti-gay. That’s just a pathetic liberal lie.

    **stil luvin’ it**

  30. ToThePoint says

    I must repeat…..F*ck the BSA. So now they say “You are good enough to be a scout but you will NEVER, EVER lead us because you are just not quite THAT good enough. Pigs, they are, ALL of them that think this is a acceptable policy offer.

  31. ToThePoint says

    Let’s just say this. If the scouts want to keep it straight, then so be it, but under no circumstances should they accept direct or indirect public funds to run their operations. If they want to keep it straight and their members and leaders want to keep it straight, then they must bear the cost to do so. That means no public funds, no tax exemptions and no public supported facilities – free rent is the same as receiving public funds. Ultimately, their moral “superiority” will lead to reduced membership and leadership and the organization will fail because humanity generally loves humanity.

  32. Mary says

    I don’t blame the people here for feeling that this “halfway” policy is insulting. In a way it is. But there’s another way to look at it. Slowly, change is happening. The scouts won’t for long be able to maintain their opposition to gay scout leaders if they have gay kids in the troops. Young scouts of the future are certain to be even MORE liberal on gay rights because of this new policy. “Halfway” only makes the inconsistency seem even more absurd. So either gay scouts will have to be expelled, or gay scout masters allowed in. We know which one it will be. The only question is when it happens.

  33. Leo says

    @ LCR Jay: “The GOP is not remotely anti-gay”

    You’re…you’re serious.

    I’ll let someone else on here destroy that argument seeing as I don’t have the patience to bother. Feel free to defend it too – I’d love to hear more…

  34. Niebuhr says

    It’s clear they’re trying to keep donations flowing, while still being able to discriminate. Pathetic attempt, and even more insulting than the initial ban. I hope no one takes the bait, and that they’ll indeed lose even more by this complete BS.

  35. CAnaivePete says

    Gay scouts grow up to be gay adults. So what they are saying to gay youth is that you’re allowed to be a scout but don’t ever expect to grow up and become a leader, no matter how exceptional you turn out to be. Sort of damned before you start….

  36. Bill says

    @Jake: I’ll bet you’ll find that this “solution” is the one that maximizes the bottom line. A national organization typically gets income based on the size of the membership. They don’t want to lose members, whether liberal or conservative. They are hoping that their compromise will satisfy liberals enough to avoid a mass exodus while not angering conservatives so much that they start a mass exodus. Also, not discriminating against members (i.e., children) might make it easier to keep freebies that they are now losing due to discrimination.

  37. John says

    This ticked me off! And I’m pretty reasonable when it comes to being understanding of the “straight world”.
    Should we also ban straight men from coaching, teaching, or leading young women? After all, the number of abused young girls in the world by straight men outnumbers the entire gay population including, “gay” pedophiles.

    The whole thing is an insult and just makes me sick. Yet, I have to remind myself, it’s just fear and ignorance.
    If only more people understood that the majority of adults, gay or straight, are ALL on the same page when it comes to keeping all children safe from the real perverts of the world!

  38. says

    To those who have pointed out the weird position that the BS of A now finds themselves in, I wrote an article on that very point http://bbsnews.net/sorry-gay-eagle-scout-as-an-adult-youre-out/ where it points out several contradictions in this proposed policy change that has not even been voted on yet. Strangely, the religious conservatives that drive the hypocrisy and homophobia of the BS of A have not noticed that the Islamic Society of America is involved with scouts and even an endorser.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but those religious driven homophobes are usually the same ones blathering about Muslims as much as they do about gay rights.

    Hypocrisy in living color…

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