Next week, the Boy Scouts will hold their National Annual Meeting which, like most events of its kind, is an opportunity to put pressing issues on the table for discussion. And when they do, they’ll make a decision that weighs the future of the organization against the regulations of its past: whether or not to lift an existing ban on gay members.
Boy Scouts is one in a thinning crowd of holdouts still practicing this brand of exclusionism. At least on paper, other entities have stepped up to support—or, at the bare minimum, tolerate—the LGBT community. If the Scouts’ powers that be move to accept gay boys, it probably will be less because of some great sweep of sensitivity and more due to public pressure and bias-shaming (because we don’t already have enough terms that have “shaming” tacked onto the end).
Parents are still divided almost evenly on the issue (48 percent still support the ban). But I can’t help but wonder: would it make a difference if all moms and dads stood in solidarity with the ostracized families and refused to allow their children to participate in any activity that purposely excludes other kids based on something as intrinsic and natural as their sexuality?
Would it be a teachable moment on acceptance or would it be an unnecessary sacrifice for the straight kids? And more importantly, would it speed the decision along?
It’s not like trying out for the team and cutting cut. It’s an exercise in purposeful exclusion based on who these folks are as people, part of what makes them them.
Even if the Boy Scouts allow everyone from all backgrounds, orientations, races, preferences and communities to know the joy of scouting, there’s still a standing discrimination against adults. That sends a mixed message to the kids—straight and gay—about perpetuating pre-judgments and bowing to manufactured social fears. So to that ban-lifting thing, it kind of needs to be all-in in order to really be effective.
We’ll wait and see what happens. And in the meantime, send spirit fingers and positive vibes and prayers (yes, some of us still do that) that we can take a step, albeit an overdue, tentative one, into treating all kids and all adults the same. Here’s to hoping.
Would you pull your kid from an activity or organization if its leaders weren’t practicing equality?
Image via stevendepolo/Flickr