Another trench lost in the culture war. . .
With much fanfare, the Boy Scouts of America have changed their policy regarding "openly gay" Scouts in its ranks. After a vote yesterday, a Boy Scout in good standing may be "openly gay"; "openly gay" adults are not permitted to be adult leaders, however. This change in policy has followed years upon years of vilification heroically endured by the organization, including the loss of camping privileges at many public areas around the country, repeated desecration of their uniform in gay pride parades, etc.
Your humble commentator was a poor Boy Scout as a youth, and (hopefully) a better assistant Scoutmaster as an adult. I have three comments for now:
1) I fear that the Boy Scouts will now go the way of so many "mainline" Protestant denominations who chose to no longer give answers to hard questions, for the sake of perceived popularity. The Boy Scouts provided one critical function that no other youth organization did: they provided a vehicle for the moral formation of our youth. Whether one agreed or disagreed with specific stands, and regardless of whether they succeeded in particular cases, one knew that the organization was in the business of forming solid citizens. It was never a surprise when a Medal of Honor winner was an Eagle Scout. One could choose to join or not join, but you knew what you were getting when you or your son joined. And while there is always some risk of tomfoolery when putting adolescent males together in a group, the boys knew they were safe, and they knew from Day One that to join, you had to know that a Scout was expected to be "morally straight".
I hope I am wrong, but I doubt it.
2) I strongly question and challenge the motivation of the Board in changing this policy. Here in Dallas (home of the HQ of the BSA), there has been newspaper article after newspaper article stating how the prime movers behind the change in policy have been the heads of AT&T and Ernst & Young, both of whom are on the board of directors of the BSA. And each newspaper article states that these two board members hold those positions at their respective companies.
I strongly suspect the motivations of these two board members in pushing this change in policy, on the grounds that they are in part gaining proper politically correct mileage for their respective companies by doing so. We've all seen the militant gay organizations vilify Target for supporting a PAC who supported a candidate who didn't favor gay marriage. What better way to get some props for your company among the right people than getting the Boy Scouts to change their gay policy?
Certainly if this were undertaken by these two out of personal conviction, they could have done this behind closed doors at the BSA. But they couldn't have collected their thirty pieces of silver had they done so, of course.
3) Finally, a minor practical matter that some poor assistant Scoutmasters are going to have to face (this is the kind of crap decision that would often get delegated to me). We're talking tent assignments on the campout.
Let's say your troop has one or two "openly gay" Scouts. Remember, we're not talking adolescent confusion over same-sex attraction, we're talking "openly" gay. How do you assign tents on the weekend campout? Do you put the openly gay Scout in with an "openly" hetero Scout? If so, I'd like to listen as you explain this to the parents of the hetero Scout. If not, what is the alternative -- do you put the "openly gay" Scouts together in the same tent? I seriously doubt you want any part of that.
Worse yet, what if your openly gay Scout is a seventeen-year-old who is the patrol leader, leading younger Scouts (as young as 11)? What sort of dynamics do you have to face there?
I've got no answers. Just raising the questions.
The culture war continues. Remember, this battle was never about the Boy Scouts, just like same-sex marriage is not about marriage. . .