I've always been proud to say I was a Boy Scout. In fact, I made it all the way to Eagle Scout.
I learned a lot as a Scout. I learned the Morse Code, which I still remember. I learned how to tie all sorts of knots, although these days, about the only knot I can tie is my shoe laces. But the lessons about about leadership and responsibility and kindness have stuck since my days in Scouting. The Scouting experience was a good one for me.
That's why I'm sad to see, as reported by the Associated Press today, that the Boys Scouts of America are still upholding an outdated and unfair policy that excludes gays from membership. The Scouts' national spokesman said a special committee of Scout leadership has concluded that the policy of excluding gays "is absolutely the best policy for the Boy Scouts."
What century are their leaders living in?
And how does their decision square with parts of the Scout Oath and Law, which states, in part, "On my honor, I will do my best...To help other people at all times."
The Boys Scouts' official website further explains: "DUTY TO OTHER PEOPLE: Many people need help. A cheery smile and a helping hand make life easier for others. By doing a Good Turn daily and helping when you're needed, you prove yourself a Scout and do your part to make this a better world."
Where does it say we have a duty only to some people, but not to some who happen to be gay? How is this policy demonstrating "courteous, friendly and kind," which are part of the Scout Law that suggests how Scouts should behave in their daily lives.
I understand concerns leaders might have about a troop scoutmaster who is gay and might behave improperly toward a youngster. But assuming all gay people will behave badly is wrong and unfair. I've heard stories of straight people in local troop leadership positions who were physically or mentally abusive or openly expressed religious or racial prejudice to their kids. Should the Scouts ban all straight men from joining?
The Scouts organization should be setting a positive example. Their out-of-date and prejudicial policy will hurt what is a good youth organization. It may hamper efforts to recruit young Scouts and adult leaders, and it will certainly hurt the group in terms of seeking corporate support and partnerships.
On my Honor... this makes me sad.
... CommPro has a column that offers an interesting insight into the Boy Scouts' policy on gays.