Scouts' Dishonor: Boy Scouts Keep Ban on Gay Members and Leaders

July 18,2012
Erin Dower( )

Is there a merit badge for being mean? If so, the Boy Scouts of America leadership deserves it.

Yesterday, the Boy Scouts announced that it would continue to exclude gay people from being members and leaders in the 102-year-old organization. The decision comes after a confidential two-year review by an 11-member special committee. Deron Smith, the Boy Scouts national spokesperson, told The Associated Press that continuing the ban is "absolutely the best policy" for the organization. The Scouts have been taking heat from human rights organizations since 2000, when the Supreme Court upheld the Boy Scouts' exclusion of gay people.

But it's not 2000 anymore. It's 2012, and several other organizations for kids -- including the Girl Scouts -- have vowed NOT to exclude gays.

Gay kids and potential scout leaders do not want to join the scouts to wear their sexuality on their sleeve (although, like members of the military, they shouldn't have to hide it, as federal law now says after the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"). It's part of who they are, and it is a source of great adversity in their life. Look: Are kids and tweens and teens mean to their peers? (Yup.) Especially to kids with differences/adversity? (Yup.) Could kids with strife in their life use a source of fun and hope and self-esteem, especially in this era of bullying and cyberbullying and rampant suicide? I think SO. But that's just me. Imagine saying "NO _______ allowed!" to any other group. (Fill in the blank with something you identify with, like "people with glasses" or "left-handed people" or "brunettes." This is kindergarten, golden-rule stuff... I thought.

The Boy Scouts are an organization with a lot to be proud of (test your knowledge of Boy Scouts history here), but this decision, in my opinion, does not make the list. Starting a fire with two sticks is super-cool. Fanning the flames of hatred is super un-cool.