Thumbs Up for Gay Youth in Boy Scouts, Thumbs Down for Gay Leaders?
Breaking news: In a surprising (and strange) move, the Boy Scouts of America is reportedly considering a policy to allow gay youth but not gay adult leaders.
According to the Washington Post and other sources, a resolution proposed by the national organization—which still needs to receive approval at a May meeting of national council members before going into effect—provides that “no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.” The new rules would still ban adult leaders “who are open or avowed homosexuals.”
The proposed change is both broader and narrower than the proposals that received public attention over the last several months.
It is broader because it would appear to prohibit discrimination against Scouts on the basis of sexual orientation nationwide, rather than leaving the question to local chapters. It is narrower because it would maintain the nationwide exclusion of adult leaders, rather than, again, leaving that question to local chapters.
Press reports indicate that the Scouts changed their approach to the issue in part because of responses to a recent survey of Scout members.
It’s unclear how the Scouts will rationalize this half-measure, if it is approved. In official documents and in litigation, the organization has defended its national exclusion of gay Scouts and leaders by asserting its belief that homosexuality is neither “morally straight” nor “clean.” (Scouts must be “morally straight” and “clean” to participate.) So under the new policy, does homosexuality render somebody immoral and unclean if he is an adult, but not if he is a youth? What’s the thinking (if any) behind that exactly?
The story is rapidly developing. Stay tuned for updates.
[FIRST UPDATE: Read the proposed resolution here.]