Boy Scouts of America Lifts Its Ban on Gay Troop Leaders & Parents Should Be Happy

boy scoutsIn an groundbreaking announcement yesterday the Boy Scouts of America ended their ban on gay leaders. This is great news especially for the growing numbers of married gay dads who want to participate with their kids.

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"On Monday, July 27, the National Executive Board ratified a resolution that removes the national restriction on openly gay adult leaders and employees," the BSA said of their adult leadership policy yesterday. In a video address, National President Dr. Robert M. Gates said that given the "social, political, and legal changes taking place in our country and in our movement I did not believe our adult leadership could be sustained." 

Whatever their motivations, it's a relief that the ban has been lifted. As a parent I hesitated enrolling my son in his local troop because of the BSA's discriminating policy. My son's father is gay, so this would have meant never having his own dad as a troop leader.

But it's not just about sons of gay fathers. As of 2012, only 110,000 children in the U.S. live with same-sex parents -- and they're not all joining the Boy Scouts. This is about the message of inclusion this sends to all of our sons, whether they end up having gay leaders or not. It tells all of our kids, "We don't discriminate against gay people anymore."

More from The Stir: While Boy Scouts Decide the Future of Gay Members, Parents Have a Decision to Make Too

That is, unless you're affiliated with a religious organization. The BSA took pains to point out an important exception: "Chartered organizations will continue to select their adult leaders and religious chartered organizations may continue to use religious beliefs as criteria for selecting adult leaders, including matters of sexuality." In other words, church-sponsored troops can continue to discriminate against gay leaders.

I can see how that could be a smart concession to make. It gives people some choice in the matter. If you're opposed to the BSA's policy you can join a church-sponsored troop.

So then why is the Mormon Church leadership threatening to take their toys and go home? In a statement yesterday the church leadership responded to the policy change.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is deeply troubled by today’s vote. ... When the leadership of the church resumes its regular schedule of meetings in August, the century-long association with scouting will need to be examined.

The church has always welcomed all boys to its scouting units regardless of sexual orientation. However, the admission of openly gay leaders is inconsistent with the doctrines of the church and what have traditionally been the values of the Boy Scouts of America.

Just to reiterate, the lifting of the ban on gay adult leaders doesn't affect Mormon Church–run scout troops. They can go on banning openly gay leaders all they want. So why make such a fuss?

As one gay former-Mormon Eagle Scout friend of mine said today on Facebook, "'We won't belong to a club unless we keep THOSE PEOPLE out of it.' Classy."

I suppose this could occasion an important conversation with our kids about hypocrisy among church leaders. I mean, how "welcoming" is your organization to gay boys, really, if you're discriminating against gay leaders? What kind of B.S. doublespeak is that? And how is discrimination a value, exactly?

I'm disappointed by the Mormon Church's stance, though not at all surprised. But hey, I kind of get it. After all, I officially left the Mormon Church years ago when their involvement in anti-gay politics became a matter of public record. I didn't want to be associated in any way with an organization that didn't reflect my values.

Wow, though. I do not envy my active Mormon friends who want to teach their kids the Christian values of love, inclusion, and acceptance. This just made their jobs harder.

 

Image via a katz/shutterstock

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