Anti-gay decision hurts Boy Scouts
by Justin Regan
Just the other day, I witnessed something truly fantastic: an Eagle Court of Honor for seven scouts, all at once. These scouts had different personalities and interests; yet, over the course of seven years they had grown together, bonded many times over and had helped one another reach the rank of Eagle. That is why they decided to share their special day with each other. This is a perfect example of the gift the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) gives to the youth of our country. As an Eagle Scout, I can say the organization showed me a world I never would have had known otherwise and made me a man much more outgoing and aware of the world around me. While no organization is without flaws, the main flaw of the BSA — the continuation of the ban on homosexuals — is causing great damage to the Boy Scout’s reputation, infrastructure and, most importantly, the boys themselves.
The Boy Scouts prides itself on being a boy-run organization. What that means is the adults are present only to handle significant problems and provide advice and consulting when requested. Everything else is done by the scouts, from planning meetings and camping trips to teaching the younger scouts new skills. So where are the boys’ say on this issue? I understand that the logistics behind doing a nation-wide poll with every scout would be impossible, but that doesn’t justify the matter that a handful of adults in Houston are passing policies for approximately 40,000 troops across the country. What’s worse is how this two-year review was done in secret and the names of the people on the committee have not been released to the public. Transparency is a must for an organization of this caliber; it is an insult to the scouts when a secret committee of adults is laying down the laws of the land. The official statement of the BSA on this issue is that the concept of homosexuality should be brought up to the boy “within their family, with spiritual advisers and at the appropriate time and in the right setting.” It would seem that the BSA top brass does not feel like the boys are capable of reaching their own conclusions about something as meaningless as a person’s orientation and that they must be sheltered from it. Yet again, this insults the boys who now have to watch almost helplessly as their institution is castigated on the national stage for a policy they had nothing to do with. These kids also have to stand by as their camps get shut down from the fallout of legal battles the big wigs at the BSA have with the big wigs from the ACLU.
On top of that, the boys are losing mentors as a result of gay adults getting kicked out. An adult mentor in the Boy Scouts can provide a great amount of help and support to boys as they grow up. It is sad to think that some of these great men and women are being denied their chance to make a difference because we mistakenly believe that being gay is synonomous with being a pedophile. And, of course, the one who suffers the most from this is the gay kid. You don’t have to be gay to understand that growing up gay/questioning can be hell. A kid like that needs somewhere he can go to be among friends who have been taught to treat all people with respect — a place like the local Boy Scout troop. Imagine how it must feel for a kid to be told by an organization that literally preaches helping other people at all times and being friendly and kind that they are not welcomed.
Every day this policy is fought in the courts, on TV and in newspapers, the boys are getting caught in the crossfire: losing camps, mentors and friends.
The continuation of the ban on gays is dragging the organization down into the arena of controversy and harmful lawsuits even though they should be far above it all.