Last week, I attended an event hosted by the local chapter of the Girl Scouts of the United States of America. This was a social mixer meant to promote mentorship and also was an opportunity to learn about how the organization shapes lives by teaching girls and teens important leadership and critical-thinking skills. Several of the women I met there had once been Scouts, and as I listened to stories of empowerment and personal change, I wished I could go back in time and join the organization (actually, when I was really young, I was part of a Blue Bird troop—a precursor to Camp Fire Girls—but all I really remember from that time is something about melting crayons between wax paper. You know, art). I vowed that if I ever had a daughter, I'd most certainly sign her up to wear a uniform. Too bad that my future hypothetical son would have to miss out—there's no way I'd enroll anyone in an organization that discriminates against gays.
That almost changed this week, however, when the Boy Scouts of America announced that the group is considering ending its longstanding policy of banning gay Scouts and Scout leaders.
Great—it's about time. Unfortunately, however, this change doesn't go far enough. According to Deron Smith, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts, the new potential policy would eliminate the ban from the national organization's guidelines—yet would still allow for local troops to establish rules “consistent with each organization's mission, principles or religious beliefs.”
Why the distinction? Discrimination based on one's sexual orientation is wrong. Period.
It's time for the Boy Scouts to end this ban wholesale. Until then, anything else they offer boys and young men is pointless.