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?