NBC News is reporting that the Boy Scouts of America is considering an end to its ban on gay scouts and leaders.
I hope so.
I joined many others in sending the BSA my Eagle Scout badge (photo is from a Tumblr page devoted to such letters) after the Boy Scouts reaffirmed the gay ban last summer. My letter drew no acknowledgment from the chief scout executive. Which was a response of a sort, I guessed. Solicited for a contribution to scouting outside a grocery store later, I told the leader working with the kids, with sadness, that I couldn’t support a discriminatory organization, despite my own past as a scout and Cub Scout dean leader. He sympathized, in a very kind way. Like many in the organization, he, too, didn’t support the policy. But he believed in scouting and its benefit for kids. Maybe people like him, working in the system, had an impact.
The Scouts seem to be moving toward a practice where sponsoring organizations would determine membership guidelines in accordance with their beliefs. (Here’s the full statement.) Churches sponsor many scout troops, so the change wouldn’t likely mean open doors to gay scouting participants everywhere. Many groups would discriminate. You can’t help but wonder if the groups that retain exclusionary policies would want to “fellowship” with the more diverse troops at summer camps, camporees, soapbox derbies and all the other group scouting activities. Or would summer camps be segregated, as they were by race in the old days, to prevent sharing of water fountains and the like?