Editorial: Welcoming gay Boy Scouts
Editorials May 24, 2013 6:08PM
Former Cub Scouts den leader Jennifer Tyrrell, who was ousted from Scouting because she is openly gay, wears a button on her uniform shirt that reads "We Support All Boy Scouts" as she responds to a reporters question Thursday, May 23, 2013, in Grapevine, Texas. Local leaders of the Boy Scouts of America voted Thursday to ease a divisive ban and allow openly gay boys to be accepted into the nation's leading youth organization one of the most dramatic moves the organization has made in a century. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) ORG XMIT: TXTG109
Updated: June 27, 2013 6:46AM
To be young, gay and a Boy Scout.
An unthinkable notion just a few short years ago.
Today, a real possibility.
Is is it enough?
The Boy Scouts National Council, in a significant step forward, voted last week to lift the group’s ban on openly gay scouts. But in a move we oppose but which reflects the will of its adult members, the scouts kept in place a ban on gay scout leaders.
The contradictions in the tightrope the scouts hope to walk abound. Yes to openly gay scouts. But once you turn 18, you’re no longer allowed. Just how welcome might that scout feel at age 18, as well as the day he contemplates joining?
The limits of that welcome are clear for all to see.
But we aren’t interested in piling on the scouts, whose leader heralded the step as “compassionate, caring and kind.” The organization surveyed members before pursuing a change and found that 61 percent of adult Boy Scouts members supported the ban on gay membership.
That rate has been slipping rapidly, particularly among boys and their parents, but it remains high. Three years ago, 57 percent of parents of current scouts supported the policy. Today, only 48 percent support it. A majority of scouts oppose it.
Opposition to the change was fierce, with defection warnings from more conservative members. About 70 percent of the groups that run the packs and troops are faith-based, including the Roman Catholic Church.
In a world where attitudes are quickly changing, the best hope is that this step will be followed by more steps that ultimately end discrimination in scouting. As with same-sex marriage, scouting parents will soon learn what happens when gay people are treated with respect and dignity — respect, it turns out, only engenders more of it.
The Boy Scouts have started on the path toward embracing equality for all. We hope, one day soon, to see them fully on the right side.