The opinions stated in this article are solely those of the author and not of The Davis Clipper.
In considering the acceptance of gay leaders and scouts in their organization, the Boy Scouts of America is receiving as much attention as if a terrorist planted a bomb at a Pinewood Derby.
And the problem is that the Boy Scouts could implode no matter what decision is made.
The sides are distinctly drawn. Advocates of the policy change see no reason to ban openly gay adults or youth as the country moves in the direction of approving gay marriage. Those opposing the move believe any change would diminish the moral and “high character” directive of scouting and potentially put hundreds, if not thousands, of young men in harm’s way as potential sexual abuse victims.
It’s difficult to find people in the middle of this controversy. But on one point, I would disagree with both those requesting and those opposing the change. Both groups see the issue as simple; I think it’s rather complex Р and leaves the Boy Scouts in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” corner.
Undoubtedly, the Boy Scouts have a right as a private organization to include or exclude whomever they desire. The U.S. Supreme Court has already spoken on that issue. The controversy revolves only around what is good for the organization and its members.
By delaying the decision until later this spring, supporters of the change cry that scout officials “caved” to conservative pressure. Of course, they did, and for good reason. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints accounts for about one in six scouts nationwide; toss the Methodists, Catholics, and Baptists in the mix and religious organizations comprise not only the trunk of the tree, but nearly all of its branches too. The religious groups are the ones who put out the effort and spend the time to support scouting. Irritating them is like McDonald’s telling its customers it will no longer serve meat.
Any change in current policy would likely lead to a drop in financial support from religious groups and individuals and who might abandon scouting altogether to form a new youth group.
By appeasing the religions, however, scouting is facing severe funding losses from sponsoring businesses. And an increasing number of corporations have suspended their sponsorships due to the Boy Scouts discriminating in membership. This comes at a time when the number of scouts is dwindling (some 33 percent by one study) and a more open-minded youth sector sees scouting as “not cool.”
The Boy Scouts would lose funding either way.
The Girl Scouts escaped this. Rather than making a big deal of gay inclusion, it simply left the decision to individual families and “welcome(s) all girls to participate.” The idea that we’re buying a box of Thin Mint cookies from a gay Girl Scout doesn’t seem to bother anyone.
Unfortunately, the Boy Scouts of America finds itself in the line of fire, and I see no way it can avoid the wounds.