Fearful Boy Scouts send a message of exclusion
The following editorial appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Thursday, July 19:
(MCT) — The unconscionable discrimination perpetuated by the Boy Scouts of America has a Midwestern face.
It is Eric Jones of Kearney, Mo., red-haired and clean cut, Eagle Scout and role model. Jones, a 19-year-old college student, was instructed to leave his camp counselor’s job last weekend after he told the camp director he was gay.
His dismissal shames the Boy Scouts. Jones was the same reliable young man of good character after he came out to the director as he was when the camp entrusted him with a leadership position. For the Boy Scouts to contend otherwise is hurtful and sad.
It would be nice to use the insult to Jones as a rallying cry to persuade the fabled organization that sexual orientation is simply an essential element of a person’s makeup and not a threat unless one chooses to perceive it as such.
Unfortunately, the Boy Scouts slammed the door on such hopes last Tuesday by announcing that a two-year review of its policies had validated the decision to exclude openly gay scouts and leaders.
Scouts should have the right to “address issues of same-sex orientation within their family, with spiritual advisers, and at the appropriate time and in the right setting,” said chief Scout Executive Bob Mazzuca.
Perfectly understandable. What Mazzuca doesn’t explain is how the participation of gay Scouts would interfere with that process.
The suggestion is that the Boy Scouts are worried that impressionable young people might drift toward tolerance should they become friendly with a gay Scout at a campout or club meeting.
But the nation is moving toward acceptance, with young people leading the way.
Gay youths are no longer willing to “hide who I (am) and live this second life,” as Jones explained this week. Their peers don’t expect that of them.
The Boy Scouts do great harm to their organization and legacy by continuing a discriminatory policy.