Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I don't care about the Boy Scouts

I am probably one of the only few people who get exasperated at the gay community on the subject of the Boy Scouts. The announcement today put me in a bad mood:

The Boy Scouts of America announced today that it will continue its long-standing policy of discrimination against LGBT scouts and scout leaders and will take no action on proposals to reconsider that policy. This comes despite growing pressure to lift the ban from Eagle Scouts, an Ohio mom who was removed from her position as a Cub Scout den leader purely because she is a lesbian, and two prominent national board members.

A spokesman said a secret 11-person committee, appointed in 2010 to study the issue, “came to the conclusion that this policy is absolutely the best policy for the Boy Scouts.” The group dismissed the announcements by Ernst & Young CEO James Turley and AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, both members of the BSA national board, that the group ought to lift its ban.

I'm in a bad mood partly because of the decision to keep this stupid policy. Another reason for my anger is the fact that religious right groups are praising the Scouts while implying that gay men are sleazy individuals who want "access " to children.

But the single largest reason for my anger is at my own community.

I don't care about the Boy Scouts and I don't agree with my community's decision to fight this battle the way it is being fought. I didn't like it when the James Dale case was fought all the way to the Supreme Court because I knew we would lose that one. Dale was the young gay man who was a scout leader until his sexual orientation became public. When he was kicked out, he sued all the way to the Supreme Court

And the court ruled  in 2000 that the Boy Scouts had a right to free association.  I agree with that.

I don't see the Boy Scouts in the same manner as I see employment discrimination or housing discrimination. This is an organization which should have a right to dictate who its members are so long as it doesn't receive public funds.

And therein lies the rub, so to speak. Our argument with the Scouts should not be the fact that it doesn't allow gays in. It should be with the question does it receive tax dollars or the things which are paid for by tax dollars while pursuing a discriminatory policy.

Seems to me that based upon its recent history, the last thing the Boy Scouts should fear is gay men. We are not the reason it had to pay $18.5 million to a victim of sexual abuse in 2010.

Nor were gay men involved in the 2011 case in which it was discovered that Boy Scout officials in this country and Canada knew that a pedophile was in their ranks and did nothing to stop him.

In spite of its reputation, the Boy Scouts sounds like an organization I wouldn't allow my dog in, much less my child. We don't need to force this group to allow us in. What we need to do is not only stay far away but also keep our tax dollars far away.

I say let the Boy Scouts keep the gay community out so long as our tax dollars are kept out also.

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truthspew said...

Still, it is part of the bigger picture of bigotry. I say this as a former scout (Troop 42, Pawtucket, RI and Troop 13, Providence).

But eventually it will change. You have two prominent board members from at&t and EY saying it should change. And as time goes on it will change.

boy wonder said...

Keeping the tax dollars out is the rub Alvin. The BSA gets millions of dollars in government benefits in the form of reduced rent or free use of public buildings. Additionally, the BSA recruits through our public school systems and the president of the united states is the honarary president of the BSA. The relationship between the BSA and the government is very complex and the notion that the BSA is a private organization is flawed in my opinion.

Jeremy Redlien said...

I just want to say that, I was personally negatively affected by the BSA's policies in a very significant way. It's not something I want to go into detail about but consider the impact this has on LGBTQ youth. As an adult, I really don't feel I'm missing out an anything, but considering the BSA's influence, particularly rural areas where positive LGBTQ groups are few and far between, the negative consequences of this policy on LGBTQ youth is huge in terms of encouraging bullying and ostracization.

mikenola said...


The problem with a group like the BSA is that they are ubiquitous in our public life.

It is in the same perception of "too big to fail" with banks. meaning that EVERYBODY knows the scouts and they are the largest SOCIAL group for children. Without the scouts, millions of children would not learn some pretty important social skills.

Unfortunately one of those is discrimination.

Additionally they get tax dollars and some of that goes directly into Church Coffers.

I frankly believe that Churches should not get Federal or State money for anything.

I will grudgingly concede that the building they use for worship might be eligible for a property tax exemption, but NO other property, business, or organization, sub-organization should be allowed any tax exemptions. but then I don't like organized religions.

Jason Dabrowski said...

I agree Alvin. Perhaps this is just my experience, but the one good thing that did come out of the 2000 suppreme court case against the BSA is that they are forever linked to bigotry and discrimination. Much in the same way the Salvation Army and "the Christian Church" have become synonymous with prejudice.

But yes, I've never quite understood the sense in going after a private organization. The fact that they get so much "free" stuff from our government just means we need to point that out. They're a private organization that excludes people from membership based on arbitrary standards ---and that's totally okay--- just not on my dime.

Linnea said...

I tend to agree with boy wonder. The BSA may not get direct tax dollars, but it still gets indirect government help. Also, the Girl Scouts have never discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation. If non-discrimination is good enough for the girls, why not for the boys?

lorimakesquilts said...

Being a boy scout and particularly and eagle scout still carries a lot of valuable cachet. The military even offers an instant promotion to eagle scout enlistees. It may be a private organization on paper but its ubiquity and close relationship with the government makes it more public than private in reality.