LGBT Groups Have Mixed Feelings on Boy Scouts’ Ruling
On Thursday evening officials from the Boy Scouts of America voted to end their longtime policy that prohibits openly gay members from joining the organization. Though out volunteers and Scout leaders are still bared from joining, a number of LGBT groups applauded the BSA for taking a baby step in the direction of equality while stressing their concern that the organization needs to be 100% inclusive.
"The Boy Scouts of America can do better," said Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout and Executive Director of Scouts for Equality. "We welcome the news that the ban on gay Scouts is history, but our work isn't over until we honor the Scout Law by making this American institution open and affirming to all." Wahls also took to his personal Twitter account and wrote, "VICTORY (Partly.)"
The Human Rights Campaign said it was a "historic day for the Boy Scouts" but added, "the new policy doesn't go far enough. Parents and adults of good moral character, regardless of sexual orientation, should be able to volunteer their time to mentor the next generation of Americans."
Family Equality Council's spokesman, Steve Majors, echoed the Wahl and HRC's sentiments and said,
"This is a step in the right direction, but it's not the best the Boy Scouts can do. The Boy Scouts of America have sent a hurtful message to Scouts with LGBT parents that their moms and dads are not welcome as leaders alongside other parents. As a father of two girl scouts and the proud partner of an Eagle Scout, I know that Scouting has a long tradition of being a family activity and the Boy Scouts should be open to all our families."
The National Gay & Lesbian Task Force called the vote a "monumental step forward for the Boy Scouts of America" and that they are "thrilled for the gay youth who will no longer be turned away." They add, however, "we know our work isn't complete" and say point out that the BSA still discriminates against "qualified adults" because they are gay. "Fairness is a fundamental American principle - it's not to be sliced, diced, divvied up and dictated by prejudice," the group says.
Additionally, GLAAD commented on the vote and said "major victory for gay youth" and that it is a "huge WIN." Like the other groups, GLAAD added, "But gay Scout leaders - like former den mother Jennifer Tyrrell - are still banned from the Boy Scouts. This is the time to keep up the pressure. We won't stop until the Boy Scouts of America removes the ban on gay and lesbian parents and leaders."
LGBT activists also shared their thoughts about the ruling via Twitter. George Takei said the vote was "a great step forward," while Dan Savage wrote, "This isn't about gays wanting to join the #boyscouts. This is about not kicking kids who've been involved in Scouting...since they were small children for the crime of growing up gay."
The Right Strikes Again
True to form, anti-gay ultra conservatives also took to the social media site and slammed the BSA’s vote.
"And so the Boy Scouts, under presser from *gay* activists, snatch defeat out of the victory they won at the Supreme Ct. years ago," Peter LaBarbera, the president of Americans for Truth about Homosexuality, wrote. "So sad. Rich 100-year history of @BoyScouts as "honorable" & "Morally straight" ends in disgrace," Matt Barber of the conservative website Town Hall tweeted.
Bryan Fischer, the Director of Issues Analysis for the American Family Association, dramatically tweeted, "Epitaph: On this day, the Boy Scouts of America died, sacrificing their honor and the sexual integrity of young men."
In a statement, Family Research Council’s president, Tony Perkins, said, "There is little doubt that God will soon be ushered out of scouting. Now is the time for new leadership. In the meantime, we will stand with those BSA Councils who will now act to protect boys from a new policy that only creates moral confusion and disrespects the views of the vast majority of Scouting parents."
Brian Brown, the president of the National Organization for Marriage, also released a statement, saying, "Their decision to admit openly gay scouts will end up sexualizing the organization. I am certain that having changed their policy on homosexuality, it’s only a matter of time before courts order them to admit homosexual scout leaders. Meanwhile, countless thousands of churches will very likely pull their sponsorship rather than endorse homosexuality, and the entire organization will begin to collapse."
Soon after the announcement, a slew of supporters and people opposing the BSA’s decision, flooded the organization’s official Facebook page with comments.
"This organization CAVED, never ever will this be a Christian based club, the Devil won, the Athiests won. I will not support this organization. . . Ever," one woman wrote. Another Facebook replied to the comment, and said, "Please tell me when the Boy Scouts was ever a Christian-based club. When I was a kid, I had scout meetings at a Synagogue, and all the kids around me were Jewish."
"I wonder how many kids are reading all this crap? Great example everyone! Just great... FYI, I’m not down with new vote, don’t get me wrong, I love everyone, even the Homos (I think they are funny) I pray for all of you guys and the kids, and one more thing, we can’t change people using theology & Logic...," another Facebook user wrote. "Only God can change people, instead of slandering people, we should show Gods to love them... Its Gods plan anyway (Jeremiah 29-11) let the openly Gay kids join BSA, share TRUTH with them."
Though a number of the comments slammed the BSA, many were pleased to see the organization inch closer to full equality.
"Great decision for BSA. It may be a hard road for the next couple of years but people will start backing the BSA even if current sponsors back out. It’s a brilliant day for Scouts all over the world, especially in America!"