Thursday, May 21, 2015

Boy Scouts Debate on Gay Adult Leaders


http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-32833797

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is going through a debate the we are a country are muddling through right now as well: what their stance on gay marriage is. While they allow openly gay youth to be members as scouts (as decided in 2013) at the moment gay males are not allowed to be leaders in the organization. The head of the BSA Robert Gates has claimed that its ban on gay adult leaders is unsustainable, and his words ring true in New York, where a chapter has hired an openly gay male as a leader, as a message that they are flaunting the rule. Gates says that while he could revoke that chapter's charter for disobeying the rules, doing so would only hurt the scouts in that area, so he is not going to make any move against them. He also says that he would be open to having a "chapter by chapter" form of decision making where geographically each chapter could decide for themselves whether to keep the ban on gay leaders or not. I, for one, agree with Gates that the ban is unsustainable, especially in more liberal places and just in general because it seems to me if gay scouts are allowed to participate, but not allowed to lead, it sends a negative message about gays being able to hold positions of leadership.
Thoughts on this? Are they better off going chapter by chapter or keeping an overlying position on it? Think of chapters as "states" and the organization as the federal government. Is your position the same? Why or why not?

6 comments:

Catherine van Blommestein said...

Discrimination based on sexual orientation is wrong. I would think that being a good Boy Scout means being accepting of everyone demonstrating traits of compassion and respect. It is 2015! I would like to hope that we all are more accepting of people for who they are. In regards to a unified or chapter by chapter decision to end the ban on gay leaders, I support a unified decision. Boy Scouts is a national organization, thus everything needs to be unified to avoid future conflicts like the United States is facing over gay marriage.

Christian Carlson said...

Speaking as a Boy Scout myself, I am honestly just appalled that the BSA still has to debate over updating this policy. Over the last few years, the organization has been constantly criticized for its stance on the sexual orientation of both scouts and leaders, so I definitely agree with Gates in that the current state is unsustainable. I think the BSA should have like one broad position regarding this issue. Chapter by chapter choices would create a sort of rift among the members, whereas with an overlying position, there would be no room for debate.

Elena E said...

As Catherine stated, discrimination against the LGBTQ community is wrong. The people who are defying this prejudice in Boy Scout chapters should be given respect to. If Boy Scouts decide on keeping an overlying position on this issue, I would assume that gay males would not be allowed to be scout leaders. In very liberal California, it is easy to call outrage and demand equal rights. However, the organization must think about chapters in more conservative parts of the country such as Alabama or Louisiana. It is definitely an uphill battle for the LGBTQ community and allies whether the Boy Scouts will make decisions chapter by chapter or by a unified decision.

Netta Wang 7 said...

Although I do commend Gates in his awareness of the injustice and his efforts to find middle ground, I do not think this is an issue that deserves negotiation. This discrimination against gay leaders and the LGBTQ community is blatantly wrong, and their rights should not be compromised. As Elena said, if a chapter-by-chapter policy was enacted, many chapters would happily continue to operate with discrimination. Only a strong, nation-wide stance against the current rule can truly combat this wrongdoing.

Ben Maison said...

Boy Scouts is in the awkward position the Catholic Church was pre-Papa Frank. The church had a large part of their base was questioning views (partially focused on the lack of acceptance of LGBT) held by the central body and some followers of the faith even directly spoke out and disobeyed these rules (ex: a good number of American nuns).

With the boy scouts, they have the branding and the nostalgia, but some of the outdated ideology doesn't meet the generation of the youth and adult leadership. This has led to a number of groups splitting off or disobeying which bring more and more media attention to the issue. Really, all they need to do is overhaul it from the top, but in case of resistance by the central leadership the two options are to 1) find and alternative such as Venturers or 2) keep on disobeying and bringing media attention until they've worn away enough at the policy that it has to crumble.

Douglas Kirsher said...

The National Boy Scouts organization should set the course of direction for all the councils. Discrimination is wrong and letting some councils decide their own fate is taking the easy way out. Sure Gates is more open to doing what is right than previous men in his role, but he is also very experienced and can see how the social norms are changing in the country. That a strongly Catholic nation like Ireland can vote to legalize same sex marriage says a lot. It is clear that discrimination against gay leaders is not morally acceptable. Gates knows that that the Boy Scouts like other organizations must adapt but he doesn’t have the full courage to stand up and call for a comprehensive policy change. This is just putting a Band-Aid on the problem but it is a step in the right direction. Now he needs to step up to drive further change.