Knowing that discrimination is quickly going out of style, the president of Boy Scouts of America is calling for an end to the organization’s ban on gay scout leaders. Instead, he proposes allowing the sponsors of each individual troop to ‘set the standards’ governing their troop’s leadership, essentially forcing sponsors (70 percent of which are churches) to bear the shame and stigma of discrimination and allowing open-minded troops to progress untethered by antiquated social dogma.
An absolute ban on discrimination throughout the organization is still needed to modernize the Boy Scouts. Still, it’s a prudent move on behalf of BSA that both sheds their looming shadow of discrimination and forces the churches to own up to and be responsible for the repercussions of their own hateful policies.
More from the NYTimes:
The president of the Boy Scouts of America on Thursday called for an end to the group’s blanket ban on gay adult leaders, warning Scout executives that “we must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be,” and that “any other alternative will be the end of us as a national movement.”
At the same time, religious organizations that sponsor a majority of local Scout troops, including the Mormons and Roman Catholics, should remain free to set their own policies for leaders, said the president, Robert M. Gates, the former director of the C.I.A. and the former secretary of defense.
Mr. Gates called for the changes at an annual national meeting of the group, in Atlanta. He said that he was not yet making a formal proposal but that the Scouts’ governing body should take up the issue formally at a future meeting.
The treatment of gay men and boys has been a source of wrenching debate over the last decade. Conservative religious groups that sponsor many Scout troops, including the Mormon Church and the Roman Catholic Church, have opposed the participation of openly gay members while local leaders in more liberal areas have called for an end to the ban.
In 2013, Boy Scout leaders from across the country voted, with more than 60 percent approval, to say that no youth may be denied membership “on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.” But it left intact the policy that no openly gay adults could serve in the organization.
Since then, a Scout group in New York has defied that policy by employing an openly gay leader, and several other groups around the country have expressed opposition to the ban.
At the same time, he said that in the name of religious freedom, the Scouts should allow local sponsoring organizations “to determine the standards for their Scout leaders.”
“Such an approach would allow all churches, which sponsor some 70 percent of our Scout units, to establish leadership standards consistent with their faith,” he said.
“We must, at all costs, preserve the religious freedom of our church partners to do this.”
Zach Wahls, the executive director of Scouts for Equality, a group that has campaigned for change, praised Mr. Gates for the speech.
“Dr. Gates has built his reputation on straight talk and tough decisions, and I’m glad he’s fully endorsing a re-evaluation of the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay adults,” Mr. Wahls said in a statement. “It seems like the Boy Scouts will continue an internal dialogue about the subject and that a change within the next year or two is imminent.”Click here for reuse options!
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