Scouting For All

by Mary Griggs

On Tuesday, the Boy Scouts of America announced that they would retain their policy of “not granting membership to open or avowed homosexuals.”

This decision is in sharp contrast to the Girl Scouts of America who have policies of acceptance and recently released the statement: “We accept all girls in kindergarten through 12th grade as members. If a child identifies as a girl and the child’s family presents her as a girl, Girl Scouts welcomes her as a Girl Scout.”

Back in 2010, under pressure from LGBT activists both outside the organization and within their ranks, the Boy Scouts formed a committee of eleven “volunteers and professional leaders to evaluate whether the policy was in the best interests of the organization.” The committee “included a diversity of perspectives” and engaged in “extensive research and evaluations.” The makeup of the committee and what they studied continue to remain secret.

Discrimination is never the right policy. While the Boy Scouts of America have an absolute right to freedom of assembly, their vaunted oath has nothing to do with being straight. It reads simply: “to live your life with honesty, to be clean in your speech and actions, and to be a person of strong character.”

Gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender individuals subscribe to those very values. However, as the military found out with Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, it can be difficult to live them when you are forced to hide an essential truth about yourself.

Perhaps this is now the time for the Boy Scouts equality movement. Many political movements were started by someone making a personal stand against unfair rules and unjust laws. For example, Rosa Parks’ refusal to move to the rear of the bus launched the civil rights movement.

They already have a few activists already.

Zach Wahls — the Eagle Scout who famously and movingly testified about his two moms during a hearing on marriage equality in the Iowa legislature.

Lesbian Mom, Jennifer Tyrell who was forced out of the leadership of her son’s Tiger Scout den after six months of hard work and praise from the other parents in the troop when she complained about financial irregularities.

And, most recently, 19 year old Eric Jones, an Eagle Scout and camp counselor for the Boy Scouts in Missouri, came out to the camp director was fired. Jones said that while he knew of the Boy Scouts policy against homosexuality, he thought that the director “would overlook it” because he had been working at the camp for nearly five years.

By practicing inclusion, the Girl Scouts serve as a safe place for young girls to grow into themselves without fear of being abandoned or discriminated against. It is time for the Boy Scouts to realize you can’t teach kids to be better adults by teaching them to hate or discriminate.

***

Any and all posts, views and opinions are solely my own and are not endorsed by nor representative of any organizations with which I may be affiliated, including the Forum For Equality.

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About Forum For Equality

The Forum For Equality is a statewide human rights organization dedicated to the establishment of a society free from discrimination and to the support of good government. We believe that the fastest and most efficient way to achieve these goals is to educate our communities and to constructively participate in the political process.
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