BSA stuck in the pocket of religious benefactors

Credit: Braden Kelner/Forum Editor Credit: Braden Kelner/Forum Editor
Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA), after delaying their decision regarding a change to policies banning gay members, has announced a new and baffling stance: You can be gay and a member of the Boy Scouts as long as you are under the age of 18. This stance means that, if gay, you can achieve scouting’s highest honor, the rank of Eagle Scout, but you are banned from becoming an adult leader to pass on the valuable skills, insights, and knowledge you have acquired as a scout. This decision is an indication that the BSA is in the pocket of religious institutions, including those of the Mormons, Catholics, and Methodists, who sponsor almost half of members nationwide, according to the BSA. It seems as if the BSA would rather remain there than take a stand for a semblance of fairness.

Clearly, this is an unsatisfactory solution, particularly for proponents of integrating members of the LGBT community into the Boy Scouts. It bars gay adults from participation completely, which serves no conceivable purpose for the BSA and most likely still prevents them from regaining much of the corporate sponsorship they have recently lost, such as Intel. The only logic that I can fathom that would lead to this conclusion is the preposterous belief that gay adults are pedophiles — that or they fear the nightmare scenario of adults with diverse backgrounds indoctrinating children with the poisonous, insidious concepts of tolerance and acceptance that have done so much to undermine our society.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has come out in favor of the proposed plan, saying that they support the decision to allow gay youth membership. The BSA is likely pleased that they can count on keeping one of their main sources of funding and members; they may think that this nonsensical discrimination is in keeping with the “morally straight” tenant of the Scout Law. They have somehow managed to conflate the word “straight” in the sense of sexuality with not being a dishonest person and, in doing so, managed to toss the original meaning completely out the window.

Once again it is clear that keeping Mormon approval is more important to the BSA than the well-being of youth or a sense of fairness and decency. But this move doesn’t make much sense in the context of Mormonism either, since Mormons allow members to be homosexual, so long as they don’t actually do anything homosexual. If an organization — one that has prominent adherents like sci-fi author Orson Scott Card actively fighting against gay marriage — can trust adults to deny themselves any sexual activity, why in the world can they not be trusted with leadership of youths?

Allowing gay youths to join scouting is a step in the right direction, and I am glad to know that the organization has some sense when it comes to considering the children. When I previously wrote about this issue last October, I mentioned what a positive experience scouting was for me and my psychological health. I argued that it is not only negligent but also malicious to bar children with a far greater risk of bullying and suicide.

To be fair, I should be glad that the BSA has stopped being directly harmful to a large portion of America’s population and is now only cruelly discriminatory to people in a way that is to its own detriment. But I’m not; this feels like a peace treaty that shouldn’t be signed. I call upon all fellow scouts to continue decrying and protesting this unjust and illogical stance.