The Boy Scouts of America reiterated Thursday that it has no plans to change its longstanding policy of not allowing gays and lesbians to openly serve in the organization.
The youth development organization resorted to clarifying its policy Thursday after several media reports surfaced that it would consider ending its ban. The reports indicated that the reconsideration came after the Scouts received backlash for dismissing Jennifer Tyrell, 32, from her 7-year-old son's Tiger Cubs pack in April because she is gay.
Since the den mother's dismissal, there has been a change.org petition demanding she be reinstated. It collected almost 300,000 signatures and was presented to the Boy Scouts' annual meeting last month.
In its June 7 statement, the Boy Scouts said voting members can submit resolutions indicating their personal views for consideration at the annual meeting. It said the resolution has been referred to a committee, which will present a report to the National Executive Board.
But the Boy Scouts made it clear: Contrary to media reports, the Boy Scouts of America has no plans to change its membership policy. The introduction of a resolution does not indicate the organization is 'reviewing' a policy or signal a change in direction.
It also added that, Resolutions and petitions on this subject are not unique and go back as far as 2000, when the U.S. Supreme Court reviewed this matter, and have been widely covered in the media since that time. In addition, in the past individuals have submitted resolutions asking the BSA to reaffirm its current policy. Those resolutions were handled in the same manner. The introduction of a resolution is procedural and handled with respect but does not indicate the organization is 'reviewing a policy' or signal a change in direction.
Even though it is clear that the 102-year-old organization is entrenched in its ways, here are three reasons why the Boy Scouts should consider lifting its ban and allow gays and lesbians to serve.
1. Gays and lesbians can lead and cooperate: The Boy Scouts of America prides itself in helping to build young people's character and future leaders. Scout members are trained to be responsible, work hard, and grow physically and mentally. The Boy Scouts teach many useful lifelong skills that members can take with them into their adult years, use in everyday life when interacting with neighbors and strangers, and incorporate into the work world. America is a country filled with great leaders - some of whom happen to be gay. Last year, Robert Lee Pitman, an openly gay magistrate judge, was nominated by President Barack Obama to serve as U.S. attorney for the Western District of Texas. Pitman, who is the first openly gay U.S. attorney in Texas, is only one of many LGBT public officials. At the end of the day, being lesbian or gay doesn't prevent you in any way from being a leader or cooperating with others as part of a team.
2. Be a beacon for other service organizations: America is a country that believes in liberty, and that all people are created equal. Therefore, by allowing gays and lesbians to serve, the Boy Scouts can be a shining example for similar service organizations with policies that are just as controversial. Boy Scouts members join because they are dedicated and want to make a sacrifice. Regardless of how physically demanding a job is, it doesn't mean that because a person is gay or lesbian that he or she will not be capable of keeping up or carrying out necessary duties or services. What harm can it do to allow entry to individuals with alternative lifestyles? To prevent gays and lesbians from being a part of the organization is to insult their professionalism.
3. Display tolerance and make a progressive approach: The organization has been excluding gays and lesbians for years and its decision has always made headlines. The Scouts finds that homosexuality is somehow inconsistent with its requirement that Scouts be morally straight and clean. But banning gays and lesbians is not at all a guarantee that the Boy Scouts will be kept righteous or even pure. Accepting them would not change the organization, and would promote tolerance and build morale. Not to mention the most important thing: it would bring the Boy Scouts into the 21st century.