Boy Scout Discrimination Must End

Sixty years ago, the U.S. Army was segregated, women were barred from combat, and openly homosexual citizens couldn’t join the armed forces. Luckily, all of these discriminatory practices are things of the past. That’s not to say, however, that discrimination in America is dead. On the contrary, discrimination still permeates many sectors of American society. In fact, the categorical discrimination of homosexuals remains a policy of arguably America’s most identifiable organization: the Boy Scouts of America.

Since its inception, Boy Scouts of America has banned openly gay people from participating in its activities. According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Scout’s official policy on homosexuals used to include the following statement:

“Boy Scouts of America believes that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the obligations in the Scout Oath and Law to be morally straight and clean in thought, word, and deed. Scouting’s position with respect to homosexual conduct accords with the moral positions of many millions of Americans and with religious denominations to which a majority of Americans belong. Because of these views, Boy Scouts of America believes that a known or avowed homosexual is not an appropriate role model of the Scout Oath and Law for adolescent boys.”

Recently, the Scouts’ policies have come under intense scrutiny, with politicians and activists alike calling attention to the group’s discrimination. Supporters of the Boy Scouts’ current policies argue that allowing gays to participate in the organization would violate the group’s “core values.”

Texas Governor Rick Perry, who supports the Scout’s current policies, went so far as to claim in his 2008 book “On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts Are Worth Fighting For” that “because gay activism is central to [homosexual’s] lives, it would unavoidably be a topic of conversation within a Scout troop. This would distract from the mission of Scouting: character building, not sex education.”

Furthermore, many in the religious community, which according to the New York Times backs approximately 70 percent of Boy Scout troops, expressed fears that such a policy change would place their beliefs at odds with those of the Boy Scouts of America.

The problem, however, is this: in its current state, the Boy Scouts’ policy is discriminatory.

From what I can see, the BSA’s current policies categorically ban all homosexuals from participation in the organization. I do not, and will never, support such an unjust ban. That said, I want to make it clear that I support the BSA’s right to protect its members from what it deems are immoral practices. The government should not and cannot force a private organization to employ someone whose lifestyle stands in stark contrast to that organization’s values.

To be clear, my message for the Boy Scouts’ is as follows: don’t ban all homosexuals from participating in your organization. Remove the current policy and replace it with a policy that pledges to examine every candidate on an individual basis. If you feel that a candidate will be a poor role model for your members or will threaten your core values, don’t offer them employment. If however, you feel that a candidate, despite his or her sexual orientation, will be a good role model for your members and will affirm your core values, offer them a position.

That is all I ask. Scrap the policy that categorically bans homosexuals and replace it with a policy of individual review. That way, categorical, and I might add, unjust discrimination will be avoided.