So one of the nation’s largest and most respected youth organizations has decided that it will continue to discriminate against gays and lesbians. That decision leaves me with just one thing to say: Too bad for the Boy Scouts.
While much of the country has finally figured out that rank discrimination against homosexuals is bad for everybody, the Scouts remain hobbled by an antediluvian policy. The Supreme Court, though, has ruled that the organization has the right to be wrong. So be it.
For years now, gay advocacy organizations and civil rights groups have pressured the Boy Scouts of America to reconsider a longstanding rule that excludes openly gay or lesbian adults from roles as leaders, as well as prohibiting openly gay boys as members. But rights are only one facet of the Scouts’ wrongheaded policy.
Opportunity — opportunity for the boys who look to scouting for leadership — is another facet. The Scouts have elected to continue excluding a untold numbers of men and women — surgeons, lawyers, coaches, soldiers, athletes — who might have volunteered their time, their skills, their energy and enthusiasm. There are openly gay men and women serving in the clergy, in the armed forces and in a host of political offices. There are gay men and women at the helm of profitable businesses. The Boy Scouts have banned all of them.
These days, most responsible adults are busy juggling duties as parents, breadwinners and, often enough, caregivers to elderly kin. That the Boy Scouts believe they have enough capable volunteers at hand to exclude some is, well, harebrained.
The organization has also passed up the chance to help vulnerable boys at a stage in their development when they most need acceptance, guidance and nurturing. Teenage boys who may be coming to terms with their homosexuality need open-minded adult mentors.