Eagle Scout: BSA Wrong
To Deny Gay Young Men
For Many Reasons — Not The Least Of Which That Banning Gay Boys Based On Sexual Orientation Is Hypocritical To The Tenets Of Scouting — Governing Organization Should Take A Stand
Former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates with Eagle Scout. Images by U.S. Department of Defense and Noah Scialom of the Fort George G. Meade Public Affairs Office.
By Joey Hancock
Special for Modern Times Magazine
Feb. 11, 2013 — For more than a decade, boys and their families have been involved in a battle with the Boy Scouts of America — that homosexual boys are banned from its membership. This fight has gone to the U.S. Supreme Court and only recently have the executives of the BSA decided to make a decision whether or not to allow homosexuals among their ranks.
On Feb. 6, the BSA released a statement saying, “After careful consideration, and extensive dialogue within the scouting family, along with comments from those outside the organization, the volunteer officers of the Boy Scouts of America’s National Executive Board concluded that due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a deliberate review.”
In simpler terms they are saying they have no idea what they are going to do so they are postponing the decision until May of this year. The BSA is a private organization which allows it to ban boys who are homosexuals.
This stance goes firmly against the founder of scouting, William D. Boyce, who donated $1,000 a month to keep the organization running during the early days, on the basis that “all boys” of all races and creeds would be admitted even though this went against his personal belief that whites were superior. The first African-American troop began in 1911 but integration of white and black youths didn’t fully take place until 1974.
Boyce’s grandson, William Boyce Mueller is openly gay and he founded a group of gay former scouts called the Forgotten Scouts, in California, in 1991. His opinion about the BSA and its stance on homosexuality was, “They need to be realistic about gay scouts, and his grandfather would not have wanted to see me excluded from scouting because of my sexual orientation.”
Issues like this arise so often among organizations that people become immune and don’t really seem to care as much as one should. The BSA at its heart is a wonderful organization for young men to gain skills that will help them succeed later in life, but does it matter if that young man is straight or gay?
No it doesn’t. The BSA doesn’t teach sexuality or religion in any of its activities. Its stance on homosexuality as a sin against God is hypocritical to its own religious principles.
The Declaration of Religious Principle in the BSA bylaws states,”The BSA is nonsectarian in its attitude toward religious training. Its policy is that the home and organization or group with which the member is connected shall give definite attention to religious life.” This means the family of the boy and religious institution of his choice is responsible for any religious teaching, not the BSA, and there are many denominations that allow homosexuality.
All arguments against homosexuals in the BSA return to religion time and again and this is just a way for the executives making the decisions to cast their own personal beliefs of God’s Law, thus taking all responsibility away from them and cast onto religious principles.
The use of God in these arguments is nothing more than an argumentative crutch people like this lean on to get their way. Instead of standing up for equal civil rights for all, they throw out God and religion to prove a point, but it never makes that point.
It is time for the executives of the BSA to stand up and make the change allowing homosexuals into scouting. Surely if homosexuals can die for America in the Armed Forces they can earn some merit badges. The boys are all doing the same work to earn their badges and the highest honor, the rank of Eagle. When a person does the same work as another they deserve the same outcome, especially when it comes to youth.
The Boy Scout Law is, “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.”
These boys like, Ryan Andresen, who was denied his Eagle rank when his scoutmaster for Troop 212 in San Francisco told him he could not give him the honor because he was gay, are standing up to the BSA’s prejudice and are the definition of bravery as stated in the Scout Law.
It would be ignorant to believe homosexuals are just now infiltrating the BSA. Truth is they have always been there, but in today’s world, people aren’t afraid to stand up for themselves. No longer must they hide in the closet, afraid of being arrested or beat up. If the goal of the BSA is to turn boys into men by taking the stance against allowing homosexual boys into the organization, they are betraying their own principles. Part of being a man is standing up for what you believe and these boys are doing just that.
This has become another struggle in the ever long fight for civil rights and an organization like the BSA that claims to have such high moral standards should learn they need to change with the times. Until they change their stance on allowing homosexuals into scouting the organization is going to slowly die as the more tolerant generations grow up. For this Eagle Scout, it is a shame and a disgrace to all Scouts around the world to deny a young man the honor of striving for and becoming something only 2 percent of Scouts have achieved since 1911.
Joey Hancock is a freelance writer living in Sierra Vista and as a young man earned the rank of Eagle Scout.
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