The Boy Scouts of America on Tuesday affirmed it will not allow openly gay Scouts. The decision, which came after a two-year evaluation, changes nothing about the Scouts' membership policies and left it up to families to address same-sex orientation.
"While a majority of our membership agrees with our policy," said Bob Mazzuca, the organization's Chief Scout Executive, "we fully understand that no single policy will accommodate the many diverse views among our membership or society."
And the views are diverse -- ranging from outrage to understanding to disappointment -- among former Scouts, parents of Scouts and Scoutmasters whom Yahoo! News asked to weigh in. Below are their perspectives, in their own words:
Be who you're not?: The Boy Scouts of America sent a dangerous and somewhat bizarre message to youngsters on Tuesday: When worried about what others will think of you, just be who you're not.
As a father of a 13-year-old Scout, I find it disappointing that the organization chose not be inclusive of the gay community in its organization. As a matter of fact, I know few parents in Pennsylvania who would object to the inclusion of the GLBT community in Scouting events.
Beyond the lack of inclusion and discrimination by the organization, there is a more disturbing message contained in the ruling. If "open or avowed" gays are excluded, where else should Scouts shun those of an alternative lifestyle? Is the message we are sending young men? That these people should also be excluded from sports and other school activities? That they shouldn't be friends with individuals of openly gay parents? Are we training them for later discrimination in the workplace?
I do not know many gay parents. But the ones I do know are loving guardians who encourage their children to be themselves.
Maybe the Boy Scouts of America can learn a few things from them.
Despite exclusionary policy, I still support Boy Scouts: I worked at Philmont Scout Ranch, the largest privately-owned high adventure facility in the world, during a summer in college. I was a backpacking guide and supervisor, helping thousands of Scouts and Scouters on their 12-day backpacking treks through the mountains of northeastern New Mexico. I am an Eagle Scout and many of my good friends, lots of whom I met while at Philmont, are also Eagle Scouts. My brother is an Eagle Scout and my father was a Scoutmaster. I learned everything from map-reading to off-road driving in the Scouts and marvel at today's teens who lack basic skills relating to navigation or surviving 30 minutes without a smartphone.
My son is 4. Despite the recent ruling of the Boy Scouts of America to continue their policy of excluding "openly" gay Scouts and Scouters, I plan to enroll my young son in Cub Scouts and, later, Boy Scouts. A flawed organization that provides valuable service is still a valuable organization. Though it hurts to think that the BSA would deny membership over something which people have no control, such as sexual orientation, I cannot deny my son the benefits of Scouting.
Boy Scouting and co-ed Venturing are among the last organizations that provide real-world skills and help youth develop independently of popular fads and trivialities.
Do not punish the youth by removing them from Scouting over anger at its reactionary leaders.
Boy Scouts promote traditional values: My 11-year-old son will be in the Boy Scouts in Knox, Ind., again this year and I fully support their decision not to grant membership to openly gay applicants.
Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is a private organization that strives to teach a particular set of values to its members. They are not a government entity and are entitled to make their own decisions based on the mission they have of guiding children to do their best. As an American, I would support them on this decision based alone on the fact that they are a private organization.
As a mother, I support the decision because I lead a heterosexual lifestyle and that is the primary lifestyle that I want to influence my son. I understand that there is a push to accept homosexual tendencies, but I think that is a personal choice. I applaud the BSA for taking this stand in the face of so much adversity. They are simply taking action to back the morals that BSA seeks to promote.
This does not mean that I think a homosexual cannot be a good pack leader, but I think they would do better to start their own organization so that they can promote those values. To try and force an organization or even one person to embrace values that they don't share is just as bad as me telling my son that your values are wrong. I live by my own moral standard and seek out people who share that standard.
On Scouts' gays policy, why I agree when I disagree: As a parent whose 11-year-old son recently made the passage from Webelo to Boy Scout in Florida, I support the recent decision by the Boy Scout leadership to not allow openly gay members in its ranks -- but probably not for the reasons you may be thinking.
I support and respect any organization that keeps to its guidelines regardless of the social pressures that may come to bear on it to change. Recently, the Catholic Church announced its intention not provide health insurance to its employees should it be required to include abortion coverage under the new health care law. It would rather pay its employees extra so they can buy their own insurance than be forced to support a policy not within its creed.
There are many organizations whose policies neither I nor you agree with -- such as the NRA, AARP, NAACP, etc. But if they have policies I disagree with, I can decide whether to support it -- or not.
The United Way stopped supporting the Scouts for this position -- a right they have and one I agree with. Although I disagree with the Scouts position, I do however support their right to maintain it.
But I then have the responsibility to fully explain to my children the Scouts' position and mine.
Boy Scouts should prepare to lose members: As the parent of a teenage Boy Scout, I am extremely disappointed.
Some argue the group is a private organization and cannot be forced to include anyone. The Supreme Court upheld this idea in 2000 by a 5-4 decision. I might be inclined to agree, except that the Boy Scouts have access to public schools for activities and recruiting. If the Boy Scouts want to discriminate against children and parents as a private group, they should no longer be allowed in public schools.
The question of homosexuality in the Boy Scouts did not center on whether gay troop leaders could teach kids how to earn a badge in sexual orientation. The question was whether to prevent gays from participating in the organization. I have raised my children to not judge people because of their race, religion, or orientation, which seems to counter to the values of the Boy Scouts today. At this point, I am not sure I will allow my son to continue being a Boy Scout.
Boy Scouts should be progressive: My son has been involved with Scouting since he was a Tiger Cub in elementary school. Now he's in Boy Scouts and enjoying every minute of it at age 14. Like most boys, his favorite time is camping once every few months. My son is under no pressure to earn any ranks, even though I earned the Eagle rank at age 17.
I can understand the organization's position. In order to be "morally straight," as the Scout Oath says, there can't be any making-out during Scout functions. There are no girlfriends allowed on camping trips with good reason. However, that same behavior doesn't need to be feared among boys and adult leaders.
There are already guidelines in place forbidding any single adult leader to be alone with a boy unless it's a family member. There are already safety rules in place to prevent sexual abuse. Lewd acts and sexual harassment are forbidden in general by Scouting's regulations. If Scouts and their families are worried about sexual abuse by allowing gays, I believe their fears are misplaced.
One former Scout mom's hope: My son was in the Boy Scouts in Georgia from the time he was a little 5-year-old Tiger Cub until he was 13, when he begged me to quit. I was disappointed he didn't want to stay in what I then viewed as a positive organization. I even wore the unflattering uniform during my assistant den mother days.
But had the Boy Scouts of America come out with its discriminatory and exclusionary policy regarding gays when my son was a member, I would have been the one begging him to quit.
Many parents are concerned homosexuals could influence their sons if they were allowed in the Boy Scouts. I'm concerned, too. I'm concerned the BSA, by sending the message that being gay is not normal, has opened the door to more bullying, threats and worse against gay boys. The stance taken by the BSA has contributed to an atmosphere that legitimizes gay-bashing.
The BSA stands for morality, yet the organization is encouraging boys to lie; they can remain Scouts as long as they don't say they are gay. In other words, they need to pretend they are heterosexual. Can I have an "H" for hypocrite here?
Sexual orientation isn't a factor in the qualities of a Boy Scout: The last time I checked, the Scouts were supposed to be an organization for boys and girls to learn leadership qualities and skills that will render them competent, community-serving adults. What does a person's sexual orientation have to do with being either a leader or a member in Boy Scouts?
This is simply ignorant. My 10-year-old daughter has been involved in Girl Scouts for several years and I was a Girl Scout. I'm appalled that such a reputable organization for children would take such a bigoted and ignorant stance against homosexuals. It is not for anyone to judge what another human being does in his/her bedroom. If the Boy Scouts are attempting to take some religious or moral high ground, they need to consider the fact that most religions prohibit people from judging other people.
This definitely makes me reconsider allowing my daughter to be associated with an organization that is so overtly discriminatory.
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