The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Boy Scouts Need to Join the Club

While gay students at St. John’s are starting to fight for equality at the University, nationally the LGBTQ community’s eyes have been on Boys Scouts of America and the group’s impending decision on whether to allow gays and lesbians into their infamous “No Gays Allowed” clubhouse.

Last year, BSA reaffirmed their policy of banning gays & lesbians as both scouts and scout leaders. Two weeks ago, reports emerged that the group was considering revising that policy, but its decision has since been postponed until May.

The delay was pushed by council members who met at the BSA headquarters in a hotel in Irving, Texas. Out of that meeting, the Boy Scouts released a statement earlier this week that said, “After careful consideration & extensive dialogue within the scouting family, along with comments from those outside the organization, the volunteer officers of the Boy Scouts of America’s National Executive Board concluded that due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a more deliberate review.”

The Boy Scouts of America is among the top youth organizations in the United States. Teaching over 2.7 million young boys the value of character building and participating in citizenship while building physical fitness, the BSA is respected and admired by many. Lobbying from both sides of the issue has caused tension for many of the members, volunteers and board members.

Those that are for the change are straightforward with their reasoning. Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout who has two lesbian mothers, told Queerty the delay was “an abdication of responsibility”. Wahls, who also founded the Scouts for Equality continues, “By postponing this decision, the BSA has caved to those who argue that their anti-gay attitudes trump basic scouting values of kindness, courtesy, and bravery. Scouting was built on a foundation of respect and dignity.”

Those that are against the change fear with the revisions many of the conservatives who back and support the organization will cease their dedication to the BSA.

Strong opinions come from both ends of the spectrum and will continue until May when the final decision is made. Kelly Williamson, a 52-year old second-generation scout, holds firm to his position, believing the Boy Scouts should keep the ban and keep gays out.

“Do not back off against the principles you’ve had for 100 years,” Williamson told The New York Times. “Really, this is nothing against the gay community. Have them form their own organization. It’s ironic, gay scouts come in and saying, ‘We want you to change how you’ve done this for 100 years.’”

Yes, the LGBT has many organizations that hold the same values & principles as the Boy Scouts of America, but does that mean exclude them from being a part of the great legacy the BSA upholds?

Ellen DeGeneres, comedian and TV talk show host, has voiced her opinion numerous of times for the dismantlement of the anti-gay policy.

DeGeneres, who is a well-known face in the LGBT community, speaks on her brother’s experience in the Boy Scouts & of her own experiences in the Girl Scouts (who are open to the LGBT community) on her daytime talk show “Ellen”. She jokes, “If the Boy Scouts start treating gays equally, they’re going to become the first group to do it — after the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, the Marines, the Coast Guard, all of the United Kingdom & Cher.”

President Barack Obama has openly stated his position on support of the BSA ending the ban on gays. However, Texas Governor Rick Perry who is also an Eagle Scout, has lobbied for the ban to remain intact.

Now we all wait until May when the conversation continues to see what happens next: Will the Boy Scouts of America move with the times or stay frozen in the 1950s?

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  • B

    Bike GuyFeb 23, 2013 at 10:47 pm

    First, a correction of facts: The Boy Scouts of America has not banned gays and lesbians for 100 years. The ban was put in place in 1991, after the Mormons had made the Scouts their official youth group and had become the largest donor. The Scouts in other nations never took on any anti-gay statement.
    The root of the problem is that right-wing Christians think that gay folks are immoral. They conveniently ignore everything else in their holy books because of a particular fascination with homosexuality.
    The BSA was never meant to be a conservative Christian organization. This is a distortion by conservative American Christians in the past two decades and it is destroying the Scouts. Lord Baden Powell founded the Scouts as a universal organization 
and explicitly non-sectarian. Scout groups elsewhere (UK, Canada, France, Mexico, etc.) have not been taken over by right-wing extremists and do NOT discriminate against gays. 

The Scouts were meant for ALL families, not just religious conservatives.
    I was a Boy Scout in NYC in the 60s and tolerance was the rule of the day: We were all sorts of religions and races. The focus was on nature and the outdoors. Given it was NYC we were a mixed group – Jews, Chinese, Protestants, Blacks – and we didn’t meet at a church. I never thought of BSA as a primarily religious organization.
    Today’s divisions began in the 1990s after Christian conservatives, and above all the Mormons, hijacked the BSA and decided that more liberal religious interpretations were unwelcome. Mormons represent less than 2% of the American population but now control more than a third of American Boy Scout troops. Mormons and Baptists miss the point of Scouting: They rarely form mixed groups, often meeting in churches and holding religious services. This distorts the original spirit of Scouting as a universal, non-sectarian organization.
    The ban is also hypocrisy: Jesus Christ never once mentioned homosexuality but clearly did not like divorce. Yet conservative churches do not lobby to expel divorced men or men who live with their girlfriends (or eat pork or whatever). My religion finds hypocrites sinful.
    As the BSA shrinks to the red areas of red states, it risks becoming the Boy Scouts of Mormons and Baptists rather than the Boy Scouts of America.

 The Christian Coalition might be happy with that but it would be a terrible loss for American boys and for our broader culture.
    We can each believe the other is immoral. We are a two-dad family whose church, family, and government honor our relationship (we live in rural New York). At the same time, I believe that people who drive giant gas-guzzling SUV’s are immoral. But I don’t have any desire to keep Hummer-driving parents or their kids out of the Scouts. Our nation does not have one official religion and as Americans we must try to respect diverse beliefs even if we do not share them.
    I am proud that a solid majority of Americans (55%) now agree that the BSA’s ban against gay men and boys should be lifted:

    The Boy Scouts were founded in this universal spirit so cherished by most Americans. I quote Scouting’s founder, Lord Baden Powell:
    “Buddha has said: ‘There is only one way of driving out Hate in the world and that is by bringing in 
Love.’ Scouting’s aim is to produce healthy, happy, helpful citizens, of both sexes, to eradicate the prevailing narrow self interest, personal, political, sectarian and national, and to substitute for it a broader spirit of self-sacrifice and service in the cause of humanity.”
    May the Boy Scouts of America return to their original universal spirit, accepting all boys and all families regardless of their religious beliefs or sexual orientations. We look forward to rejoining once that happens and hope to meet other families over the campfire at the Jamboree, be those families Mormons, Baptists or even Hummer owners. I am sure we will all get along, as Americans.

  • R

    Raven Lilith JaceFeb 23, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    You, sir, are an idiot.

  • B

    Ben BurkhartFeb 22, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    This is not about being “frozen in the 1950’s.” The best articulation of the Boy Scout’s policy on homosexuals is that this is about child safety (physical, emotional, and moral) and not political correctness. I am morally opposed to the proposed change in Membership policy. Scouting is not just campfires and knife safety. “Morally Straight,” “Duty to God” and “A Scout is Reverent,” teach specific values based on Judeo-Christian teachings. You might disagree with those values, and that is OK; but that is reality. You can go join the GLBT Pride campaign and I’m OK with that. How come when the GLBT community doesn’t like a private organization, they go full force toward destroying it? Form your own group and teach kids gay is OK. I won’t join, or sue, or anything. For the benefit and safety of my boys in Scouting, BSA should exclude homosexuals, who live a lifestyle outside of what Scouting teaches, along with known Satanic cult members (“it’s my religion”), known pedophiles (“we were born this way”), known drug dealers (“I gotta support my family”), known felons (“I didn’t do it”), pornographers (“it’s my first amendment right”), physical and emotional abusers (“it’s how I was raised”) and known drug and alcohol dependents (“It’s really not a problem”). The values of Scouting are being attacked by groups of society that do not hold to the same moral standards. BSA is a private organization that teaches specific values and moral principles, and thereby SHOULD exclude whomever is opposed to those. The best way for BSA to serve society is WITH moral standards and codes, not without them. Perhaps homosexuals should form their own group, and teach their own brand of morality. There is no law against that. Who could be against that? Why must proponents of the homosexual lifestyle intrude upon the BSA, which is sacred to many, and our teachings on “morally straight,” “Duty to God,” and “Reverence”?

    • S

      StebeFeb 23, 2013 at 6:40 am

      Mate I love ure story I totally
      Agree what about kids at school the government wants to teach gay and lesbians to kids! That is madness!!!. The average life of a gay person is 38, that tells u there is something wrong??.