Boy Scouts May Drop Ban On Gay Members, Scout Leaders
The Boy Scouts Of America are reportedly considering dropping a long standing rule and allowing individual Boy Scout to decide whether to admit people regardless of sexual orientation:
The Boy Scouts of America will consider dropping its longtime opposition to allowing gays and lesbians to serve in the organization after it received a petition signed by 275,000 people at its national annual meeting.
The petition, initiated on the advocacy website Change.org, was delivered last week to the service organization by Zach Wahls, a 20-year-old Iowa Eagle Scout whose video in support of his two gay mothers went viral last year.
The Boy Scouts will consider a new policy for 2013 that would allow local charter organizations to decide for themselves whether to accept gay members and leaders.
Spokesman Deron Smith said in a statement that, “Contrary to media reports, the Boy Scouts of America has no plans to change its membership policy. The introduction of a resolution does not indicate the organization is ‘reviewing’ a policy or signal a change in direction.”
He said that this is not the first such petition to amend the ban on openly gay membership and was “unrelated” to the meeting that the organization had with Wahls. The Scouts met Wahls out “of courtesy and respect for differing viewpoints,” according to the statement.
The proposal will go into a subcommittee, which will make a recommendation to the national executive board, a process that will be complete likely by May 2013, Wahls said.
Wahls is optimistic the measure will pass. “One, is the fact that they were even willing to consider it — this is a really big development,” he said. “It has also happened at a time when we have this level of online mobilization … that allows real change.”
As a private organization, the Boy Scouts are free to make their own decisions about membership and who can serve as a leader. Indeed, the Supreme Court affirmed that right in a case decided twelve years ago. However, this is another one of those situations where having a right to do something does not mean that one should do it. This would be a welcome change.