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The Boy Scouts approach is balanced

Timothy Kincaid

February 2nd, 2013

Two of the largest and most influential LGBT advocacy groups, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the Human Rights Campaign, are in disagreement over the new proposed Boy Scouts of America policy. If the proposal passes, the Boy Scouts would no longer bar gay youth or gay leaders from the organization. Instead, they would allow each unit to decide for itself whether or not gay youth or leaders could participate.

GLAAD finds this to be a good first step in the direction of full inclusion. HRC finds it simply unacceptable that any troop could be allowed to continue excluding gay people. I find myself in agreement with GLAAD.

I guess it comes down to how one defines ‘victory’; whether its a matter of achieving goals or a matter of vanquishing foes.

For me the goal is that those parents, troops, and sponsors who value inclusion and oppose discrimination have the ability and right to live and operate according to their values. This has been their fight as much as our own.

Others will not be inclusive, and should not be forced to be. The values of those who do not want their children to be taught that same-sex relationships are religiously or socially acceptable may not garner our respect, but the right to hold those value should.

And the truth is that we have won the war. In time, all Scout troops will welcome youth and leaders irrespective of their orientation. Many have been clamoring for the chance and many more will find it both easier and financially necessary.

So let us be gracious in our victory, kind to those who see their values rejected, and respectful of their rights. Let’s prove that society has chosen wisely.

Comments

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Neon Genesis
February 2nd, 2013 | LINK

While I support these efforts to reform the policy on gay scout troops, my problem with this solution is that they aren’t addressing the problem of Boy Scouts that discriminate against gays but are allowed to use public services like elementary schools. Will the groups that the BSA allows to continue discriminating still be allowed on public schools? What policies has the BSA brought forward to address the problem with the separation of church and state? And do you still have to believe in God to join the BSA?

Ben In Oakland
February 2nd, 2013 | LINK

My own belief about ppolitics:

Never let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Jay
February 2nd, 2013 | LINK

With friends like you, Timothy Kincaid, the gay rights movement needs no enemies. The change that you like so much is simply designed to give cover to the BSA, so that they can continue to receive corporate and government grants and subsidies, while continuing to discriminate against gay people. It is like passing an anti-discrimination statue that says you are free to discriminate.

Gene in L.A.
February 2nd, 2013 | LINK

The fact is that, given a choice, the majority of parents will prefer to find a Boy Scout troop that is inclusive. Given time, those troops that refuse to change will select themselves out of operation. This is a good first step.

chiMaxx
February 2nd, 2013 | LINK

Jay: I have to say that for once I agree with Timothy. Leaders on the religious right have been freaking out about this–seeing it as the nose of the camel. They fear that once a few Boy Scout troops allow gay members and scout leaders, it will only be a matter of a few years–not more than two generations of scouts–before nearly all do, and that scouts themselves will be the ones shaming the last few holdout troops to change their policy. And they fear even more that the wall against atheist members will fall next.

And I suspect those fears are completely justified.

Neon Genesis
February 2nd, 2013 | LINK

One should not mistake a good first step as being the final step.

Robert
February 2nd, 2013 | LINK

Much like the Marriage Equality battle we will see a hodge-podge mix of rights for these young people. It is the “States Right” method. So, most likely the same states who don’t allow Marriage rights will keep their scouts down.

I guess we will just have to see what happens.

Soren456
February 2nd, 2013 | LINK

As long as a troupe can hang out a “no gays need apply” sign (as they surely will) and, especially, as long as a boy, discovered to be gay, can be stripped of his accomplishments (by that same troupe?), this is a mealy-mouthed “victory” and a mealy-mouthed apology for it.

The VERY LEAST that headquarters could do with this change is to declare that NO troupe will ever be allowed to strip a boy of his rank and badges if he is found to be gay, and that this includes–without appeal–every “no gays” troupe.

Inclusion has never been the kiss of death for any worthy organization in my knowledge. So why is an unfounded fear of it applauded in this instance? Passing of the buck is cowardice, and those who thrive on cowardice will recognize it, and will continue to thrive. Nothing in the “new” policy stops that. The new policy changes nothing.

Incidentally, Kincaid writes:

“Others will not be inclusive, and should not be forced to be. The values of those who do not want their children to be taught that same-sex relationships are religiously or socially acceptable may not garner our respect, but the right to hold those value should.”

What an odd conflation. What has troupe exclusion got to do with teaching same-sex relationships?

carol
February 2nd, 2013 | LINK

I wrote to the scouts as suggested here and then I heard the HRC stance. I think I agree with HRC. I mean its a good first step and helps some but for many kids it doesn’t change anything. I guess its better than nothing for now but I’d like to see the pressure on them continue.

TampaZeke
February 2nd, 2013 | LINK

My issue with Timothy’s opinion is that it’s not as if gay boys in many areas of the country and in rural areas are going to have options if they want to be a boy scout. It’s not as if everyone will have available choices of Troop Q that is inclusive or Troop B that isn’t.

It doesn’t seem fair to me that boys in Mississippi (where I grew up), across the rural South and countless other conservative and rural parts of the country are going to be told “Sorry, no Scouts available for you! If only you lived in Boston or San Francisco.”

We’re talking about discriminating against KIDS here folks. I personally think that changes everything.

PJB863
February 2nd, 2013 | LINK

It’s a step in the right direction. We’re not going to win this one in one fell swoop, just as we haven’t won many other battles in one fell swoop – think marriage equality, ENDA, etc.

Perspective people…..

iDavid
February 2nd, 2013 | LINK

I have to side completely with Timothy on this one; one step at a time. I am also a supporter of the Elton John approach to gay marriage, Civil Unions throughout first, gay marriage for a second step, tho we opted otherwise. My reason is summed up in one word, violence. One approach is more, the other less. And I am an ardent supporter of one less dead gay kid if a little patience is all we have/had to apply.

Lord_Byron
February 3rd, 2013 | LINK

My only problem with the slow approach is that I figure a couple groups that deny gay scoutmasters or boy scouts are going to demand that the groups that are open to all not be allowed to participate in any of the national boy scout events.

StraightGrandmother
February 3rd, 2013 | LINK

Like TampaZeke said I feel sorry for the gay boys who don’t have other troops they can belong to.

But at the same time the Supreme Court Ruled that as a private organization they can exclude who they want. So they are within their legal rights.

As much as I would like to see a touchdown I will accept a first down because it moves the ball down the field to the Goal Line.

First we get our Government to stop Discriminating against Sexual Minorities, next revise the 1964 Civil Rights Act and add on Sexual Minorities. Because there is no Federal Law that prohibits them (they cannot discriminate against black children at BSA), the Boy Scouts can discriminate all they want against sexual minorities.

First end government discrimination then go after private discrimination by amending the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

StraightGrandmother
February 3rd, 2013 | LINK

But Timothy, I won’t be “gracious” “resigned” is more like it.

Steve
February 3rd, 2013 | LINK

Well, the fact is that the BSA are a little more than a “private organization”. They are officially chartered by Congress and receive lots of preferential treatment by the government and the military.

Hunter
February 3rd, 2013 | LINK

There’s a couple of things I’d like to point out:

Funding for the national council has dropped, which is, I’m sure, what’s fueling the “reconsideration”. Keep in mind, though, that funders can always direct their donations to local troops and councils. I’m sure the Mormon and Roman Catholic churches will continue to fund discriminatory troops — it’s what they do (although considering its recent positions, the Mormon church may wobble a bit on that). Other donors, including major corporations, are more likely to direct their funding to those troops that don’t discriminate. I suspect that the discriminatory troops, at least those that are not wholly beholden to the churches, are going to be changing their policies.

Second, politically I think this is about the best the national BSA could do. You’ve already got the professional gay-bashers freaking out over this — can you imaging the s**t-storm if the BSA had just reversed course? Not that I think that’s possible for them — there’s going to be a lot of resistance to the change in its own board, and the churches wouldn’t tolerate it. But they have to do something — the recent high-profile instances of them acting like jerks toward gay Scouts, coupled with the loss of major funding, is sort of forcing the issue — they’ve gotten really bad press. (You think Ryan Andreson appearing on Ellen had no impact?) Plus the fact that they’ve lost a lot of their preferential treatment at the local level over the past few years.

I’m with Timothy on this one — it’s probably the best to be expected at this point, but it is only a first step.

Jay
February 3rd, 2013 | LINK

iDavid and others who are defending the Boy Scouts absurd policy, think about the kids who have been bullied and committed suicide because of policies like this. They will hear their exclusion as meaning that they are unworthy, “less than,” disgusting, etc. That is why people commit suicide. Heralding this as a “good first step” is nonsense. If that were the case, you should have been delighted with the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. Why were you bitching about that? It was also a “good first step.”

sohab416
February 3rd, 2013 | LINK

With Timothy’s Logic America needs “Whites Only” Boy Scout Troops to ‘accomodate’ the KKK’s beliefs.

Michael C
February 3rd, 2013 | LINK

sohab416, I don’t thing that Kincaid was arguing the societal “need” for discriminatory private groups. We need, however, to remember that private groups have a right to discriminate. The very foundation of the BSA is discriminatory in it’s definition. Half of the youth population is barred from joining the BOY scouts. We can state a case for inclusion. We can urge BSA leaders to change policies. We can boycott or send back our badges. We can change the minds of every U.S. citizen one at a time until discrimination become irrelevant. …but we cannot stamp our feet, screaming “Make life fair NOW.”

iDavid
February 3rd, 2013 | LINK

Jay,
I understand your point of view. But I think a snap reversal would cause more damage, turn over the apple cart so to speak. We’re dealing with an intense amount of hate that could turn violent in the streets if not managed to a certain point i.e. SCOTUS not ruling on interracial marriage until the country had tipped over the 50% mark. My take is there would be a long stream of more bullying and death by snap rulings. I have always followed the motto “only fools rush in”. In this case I simply weigh it out and pick my poison, it’s going to be deadly either way.

Noah
February 3rd, 2013 | LINK

I’d like to ask everyone engaged in this discussion one question: How is homosexuality in the Boy Scouts different than having women in the military?

I personally believe that the sexes are “different but equal,” but that there are too many practical problems involved with integrating female soldiers, including hygiene, abuse, etc.

Those same problems with the military and gender all hold true to this particular debate: two groups of people, some of whom may be sexually attracted to the other, are placed in the same group, the same area. In the military example, the people involved are adults and have presumably have more common sense. The same can’t be said of Boy Scouts.

I’m against both ideas to some extents, at least until the failures in both can be rectified.

Priya Lynn
February 3rd, 2013 | LINK

Noah, gay and straight boys and men have been mixing for all their lives with no problem. This is not an issue in the boy scouts or any other organization.

Reed
February 3rd, 2013 | LINK

“Gracious?” Crap, no. STILL out of step with the rest of the world’s scouting organizations.

Noah – please keep saving up those keen insights; a museum will want them someday.

iDavid – didn’t trolling Pink News used to be your beat?

Robert
February 3rd, 2013 | LINK

Noah,

If a male soldier can’t deal with the fact that a female soldier will on occassion have need for a tampon, and might evenhave to change it nearby, then they really are not much of a soldier. Same goes for the female soldier who has the issue of not being able to do it in privacy. Male soldiers already deal with others going to the bathroom on the battle field, they can deal with a tampon. It show a REAL lack of faith in the members of our Military if you think such a thing would be something they wouldn’t be able to handle.

And as others have rightly pointed out. All through out history straight and gay people have been sharing showers and locker rooms and yes, even tents without it being an issue of great importance. Kids have a higher chance of being harrased by someone in their churches than they do on a Boy Scout overnighter.

Neon Genesis
February 3rd, 2013 | LINK

In my response to the “slow” approach, I point to the words of Dr. King in Letter From Birmingham Jail, “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed. Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was “well timed” in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word “Wait!” It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This “Wait” has almost always meant “Never.” We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that “justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

Priya Lynn
February 3rd, 2013 | LINK

Hear Hear Neon.

Michael C
February 3rd, 2013 | LINK

I agree, Neon Genesis, but only when it pertains to civil rights. The Boy Scouts of America is not an arm of the government. No U.S. citizen, not one, has the “right” to be accepted into the Boy Scouts.

When it pertains to issues like ENDA and DADT and DOMA, we should accept no compromise.

Neon Genesis
February 4th, 2013 | LINK

We most certainly have the “right” to join the BSA if the BSA continues to have the “right” to meet in public elementary schools to recruit children (I thought it was we evil gays who were in the business of recruiting children but I guess it’s fine when Christians do it?) and be given free access to government resources. The BSA can’t on the one hand claim to be a private organization when it wants to maintain its “right” to be bigots but then pretend to act like a non-profit government funded organization on the other hand when it wants to get into our schools to promote itself. Either the BSA is a private organization or it’s not; take your pick but it can’t be both. And won’t somebody answer my question if atheists will still be banned from joining the BSA under this “new” policy?

Jay
February 4th, 2013 | LINK

Yes, the BSA has the right to discriminate. The Supreme Court has said so. What is galling, however, is to have this site, which purports to be a site for the promotion of equal rights, to be falling over itself with delight that the BSA is going to continue to discriminate. They will issue a non-position paper that they hope will continue keeping the money rolling in from foundations who have nondiscrimination policies, while giving their blessing to the large majority of their regional and local scouting boards that will continue to discriminate.

The BSA is making even this tiny concession only because they are feeling the heat from the public at large. Kincaid wants to turn the heat down.

Priya Lynn
February 4th, 2013 | LINK

Neon said “And won’t somebody answer my question if atheists will still be banned from joining the BSA under this “new” policy?”.

I think it goes without saying that they will. Polls consistently show atheists are the most disliked group of people in the United States – most people would greatly prefer to vote for a gay president rather than an atheist one. As George Bush senior said, “I don’t think they are citizens and they shouldn’t be considered citizens.”

gsingjane
February 4th, 2013 | LINK

I don’t think Tim is being a back-stabbing weasel or secretly anti-gay here, I think he’s being realistic and fair. To call what BSA is thinking about doing a “tiny step” is incorrect. For this organization, at this time, to be considering this policy change, is in fact a giant leap and an absolutely remarkable step forward. It may not be to people who aren’t familiar with BSA, but that’s the truth of it.

Another truth is that folks have been working quietly, all these years, from the inside, to turn BSA around. I understand the temptation to call names or demonize National, but, again, it’s the people in the trenches (including folks within the organization itself) who don’t get the publicity but who have been doing the work that has led to this day.

I am truly concerned that telling BSA, at this point, that it’s “all or nothing” is going to lead to more of what we’ve had since 1978, which is nothing. Tim’s editorial at least tries to address what is really a very serious concern for people who have been involved with this issue.

Finally, the fact that the resolution doesn’t address atheism/lack of profession of belief in God should not, in my opinion, argue in favor of its defeat either. The way I see it, these two issues are not inextricably linked and BSA is right to only take on one issue at a time.

Neon Genesis
February 4th, 2013 | LINK

So because people have been working for years to get changed done, that means people should stop trying to work to get change done? I don’t get it. There are lots of gays out there who are atheists too so to say they should be allowed if they’re gay but you’ll accept kicking them out if they’re an atheist is a ridiculous double standard.

Priya Lynn
February 4th, 2013 | LINK

“Finally, the fact that the resolution doesn’t address atheism/lack of profession of belief in God should not, in my opinion, argue in favor of its defeat either. The way I see it, these two issues are not inextricably linked and BSA is right to only take on one issue at a time.”.

The BSA is wrong not to take on both issues immediately. They are in no way right on either issue.

gsingjane
February 5th, 2013 | LINK

Well, all I can say is, it’s easy to be a purist on the internet. I guess I’ve been guilty of it myself too!

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