The latest decision by the Boy Scouts of America, proposing to end its ban on gay scouts but not its ban on gay and lesbian scoutmasters and den mothers, is at once ridiculous and blatantly anti-gay. Sorry, but there's just no middle ground on bigotry. The idea that you can end discrimination against some -- and actually admit that it is discrimination -- but not against others is truly breathless in its illogic. The BSA actually says in its new proposal that "no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone," but that the organization "will maintain the current membership policy for all adult leaders."
So a boy can come out as gay, be a great scout and be accepted by the organization but not even think about being a scoutmaster as an adult? And how can a boy who comes out as gay, or is simply known to be gay because of his other associations and friendships, feel that he is not stigmatized by the BSA when the organization is still discriminating against gay adults?
The BSA's twisted reasoning is that gay adults can't be trusted around boys, because they may be sexually attracted to them and may make sexual advances on them. It's never explained why, using that logic, a lesbian can't be a den mother, and of course it feeds into the nastiest lies and stereotypes about gays, equating them with pedophiles. That continued stigmatization will fuel homophobia and bullying against gay scouts regardless of the fact that the organization now says that they won't be banned. That the BSA used its recent survey of members as a cover, claiming that a majority of its members wanted it this way, only heightens the ugliness of the message.
What I wrote last July, when the BSA decided to keep the ban on both gay scouts and gay scoutmasters, still holds: The BSA is sending a dangerous message to young people across America, telling them to keep gays away because they are not like the rest of us.
The Boy Scouts had a chance, again, to redeem itself, but it has blown it big-time. As I also noted last July, the BSA must be considered an enemy of civil rights. Any parents in good conscience must continue to realize what they are a party to by enrolling their kids in an organization whose policies would help drive hostility against a minority group. And any corporation or organization that associates with the Boy Scouts must be made to realize the ugliness that it is party to, as well.