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Boy Scouts may allow openly gay members

By Stephen Underwood
On January 30, 2013

 

The Boy Scouts of America is considering dropping its long-standing ban on allowing openly gay members and volunteers.

The proposal, announced on Monday, would allow local scouting chapters to decide their individual policy towards openly gay members. Each chapter would be able to decide whether to implement such policies based on their individual beliefs. 

According to an interview with USA Today, Deron Smith, spokesman for Boy Scouts of America, commented on what the proposed changes mean and how they would be implemented. 

"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," Smith said. "The Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members or parents. Under this proposed policy, the BSA would not require any chartered organization to act in ways inconsistent with that organization's mission, principles or religious beliefs."

The recent announcement comes after protest and a yearlong, highly debated campaign sponsored by organizations such as the Gay and Lesbian Alliance against Defamation (GLAAD) and Scouts for Equality to change the national policy. According to the GLAAD website, more than 1.2 million people signed the petition to end the nationwide policy banning openly gay members. 

Fleurette King, the executive director of the Rainbow Center, believes that the proposal is a step in the right direction. 
"The beautiful thing is that we can look to the example of the Girl Scouts to see how successful a policy of non-discrimination has been," King said. "The Girl Scouts' non-discriminatory policy has not led to any large scandals that we know of, unlike other organizations that exclude certain members based on their sexuality. In the meantime, having such policies that exclude openly gay members and making them hide their true identity only creates a predatory atmosphere." 

King believes that the proposal should be implemented on a national level and not left up to individual chapters. 

"If the Boy Scouts want to do it right, then they will implement non-discriminatory practices on a national level instead of allowing individual chapters to decide," King said. "The Boy Scouts, being a national organization, should set an example. While trying to prevent predators and misconduct by being exclusive, the Boys Scouts are in fact creating a predatory environment by making members closet their true identities."

However, questions have been raised as to what the decision means financially, given that many organizations that sponsor scouting are against the proposed policy changes. 

An Eagle Scout, who wished to remain anonymous, said, "The Boy Scouts is an old organization that has strived, first and foremost, to create leaders and better communities. In recent times, there has been strong and clear feedback from some of these communities that prohibitive bans and policies in place ought to be modified. Regrettably, the decision is not quite so simple, for some organizations that provide substantial support to the Boy Scouts of America have expressed their interest in maintaining the status quo."

The proposal is scheduled to be voted on by the Board of Directors at the National Board meeting next week.  


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