News reports are emerging that the Boy Scouts are seriously considering lifting the ban on gay members and scout leaders and that the decision might come very soon.
The Boy Scouts of America, one of the nation’s largest private youth organizations, is actively considering an end to its decades-long policy of banning gay scouts or scout leaders, according to scouting officials and outsiders familiar with internal discussions.
The new policy, now under discussion, would eliminate the ban from the national organization’s rules, leaving local sponsoring organizations free to decide for themselves whether to admit gay scouts.
The discussion of a potential change in policy is nearing its final stages, according to outside scouting supporters. If approved, the change could be announced as early as next week, after the BSA’s national board holds a regularly scheduled meeting.
This reversal, coming just seven months after the national body affirmed its ban on gay members, demonstrates the remarkable rapidity with which acceptance of equal rights for the LGBT community is advancing. The Boy Scouts have been getting a public relations hammering and losing donors because of their reactionary stand of excluding gays and seem to have realized that any group that depends on membership of young people cannot have such a policy and survive because young people are way ahead of the old guard in acceptance of diversity.
As I wrote earlier, it is usually the case that in such reversals by large organizations, they usually edge slowly towards doing the right thing by taking incremental steps. The Boy Scout policy change, if confirmed, will not positively welcome gays into the group but simply drops the national banning policy, allowing local troops to make their own decisions. So in the short term one could expect some affiliates to accept gays and others not.
But such minimal steps tend to create their own problems. For example, what happens to a gay scout whose family moves from an area with an accepting troop to one that bans them? What would happen if a gay scout leader rises in the hierarchy to a position overseeing a local affiliate that excludes gays? The proposed change, while it is to be welcomed, will cause all manner of internal contradictions.
It is only a matter of time (I give it five years at the most) before the national group shifts to a more affirmative position, requiring that all affiliates not exclude gays.