The BS of the BSA
In 1997, when my son was a small boy, I returned to Scouting with him, to give him a chance to encounter the wonderful experiences I had had in Scouting as a boy.
I believed then, as now, that the Scouting program had many positives for youth development, leadership training, fun and the outdoors.
My son and I fully embraced the program.
As he grew up in the program to become an Eagle Scout of whom I could not be prouder, I became more active in adult leadership roles. (My daughter, of whom I am equally proud, took a different path; she was not a fan of organized fun.)
Somewhere along the line, as a Reform Jew, I became offended and angry when I learned of the BSA’s exclusionary policy (denying adult leadership roles to homosexual adults), and began to seek and to promote change.
When I started Cub Scout Pack 311 at Temple Beth Hillel, the oldest Reform synagogue in the San Fernando Valley (Los Angeles Area), my conscience, and the synagogue’s membership and clergy, required a fully inclusive policy for adult leaders in its scouting program. That is the basis upon which the unit was formed, and still exists today.
The drive for full inclusiveness compelled me further throughout a proud Scouting career to help to form and to support other local scouting units at other synagogues, and to promote diversity in our local council.
It even carried through to a fully inclusive Law Exploring Post I started for a local Bar Association.
I fought vigorously, and openly, against the prohibition of gay adult leaders based upon the stated policy of the BSA, as I understood it, expressed by BSA as follows: “Avowed homosexuals are not role models for youth [and hence cannot be registered adult leaders in Scouting].”
A few months ago, I thought substantial change might finally be in the works, when the news reported that BSA might allow local units to determine their own membership rules.
But alas, that appears to have been undermined.
Now, according to the news, in light of the BSA’s “grand exercise in listening,” BSA proposes a change which lands us right back in the same place as before.
Now the BSA proposes a rule that no youth will be denied membership in Scouting because of his sexual orientation.
Did I miss something, or isn’t that saying the same thing vis-a-vis excluding adult gay leadership?
I live in California, a state where I firmly believe that soon same-sex marriage will again be lawful, where gay and lesbian couples adopt and raise children and are fine role models for youth, and where public sentiment today cries out for equality among individuals regardless of sexual orientation…
… and where, apparently, such individuals still will not be able openly to participate in a youth development movement that otherwise made me proud.
I am ashamed of the BSA, and I am disgusted by the smoke and mirrors of this non-change.
Worse, I think this newly announced proposal – allowing gay youth members but prohibiting gay adult leaders – is probably so deliberately offensive to everyone else in the full spectrum of opinion on this issue, that it may very well be voted down at the upcoming BSA National Meeting, perhaps leaving us worse off than before.
This is the BS of the BSA.