You know that when Barack Obama and Mitt Romney agree on something, it should be pretty much accepted by everyone in the country. And one of the very few things these two agreed on during the 2012 election was that the Boy Scout policy of discriminating against its members and leaders on the basis of sexual orientation was disappointing. Neither candidate was getting particularly forceful with their condemnation, but they both confirmed that they did not support the policy of excluding gay Scouts from membership.
This summer, the Scouts reaffirmed their stance on discrimination, going so far as to deny a young man his earned “Eagle Scout” status after he came out to his friends and family. And they pressured local chapters that attempted to be more inclusive to revert back to their bigoted national policy.
Now, all of the sudden, the Boys Scouts of America might be changing their tune. Possibly it’s in response to the waves of bad press surrounding the group, stemming not just from this policy, but also from new reports on widespread sexual abuse and assault that was covered up by the organization. Possibly someone in the organization leadership simply grew a conscious.
Spokesman for the group Deron Smith explains the Boy Scout’s newest policy, which doesn’t explicitly welcome gay members or leaders, but would leave it up to individual groups to make their own decisions. He says, “The Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents. This would mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation, and the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with each organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs.”
So really, the Boy Scouts of America might not be looking to move into the 21st century and accept all members regardless of sexual orientation. They might just be attempting to spread the blame. Still, the decision might lead to some packs becoming more open and fair.
Of course, the announcement, however weak it might be, still angers many conservatives. Religious pundits and culture wars leaders like Bryan Fischer and Tony Perkins immediately denounced the decision. Fischer went so far as to tweet, “Jerry Sandusky is now the poster boy for Boy Scouts of America.” Perkins chastised the group for “abandoning their historic values.”
But while pundits and politicians make sweeping statements about the decision, while the national organization tries to shift the blame, the good news is that some groups will decide to be more inclusive. The good news is that some little boys won’t have to worry or hide or feel like they don’t fit in. Hopefully, some leaders and young men will decide to make the right decision and be open to everyone who wants to join.