Marcia’s Law – The Cowards
“Fear has its use but cowardice has none”
The National Board of the Boy Scouts of America was recently expected to announce that it would allow gay scouts and troop leaders. But, in an act of cowardice, the Board announced that rather than decide at the National Board level, they would refer the decision to the voting members of the National Council. These approximately 1,400 members, many of whom are religiously affiliated, will take action on the resolution at the national annual meeting in May, 2013.
The Boy Scouts of America have had a rough go of it the last several years:
–They have been forced to release over 20,000 files on leaders and incidents of sexual or inappropriate conduct with boys.
–Their discriminatory practices have been revealed in their application for employment which specifically states that they will not employ “known or avowed homosexuals.” But, while sexual orientation or identity is an immediate disqualifier, a criminal conviction is not.
–Thousands of Eagle Scouts, the pride of the Boy Scouts of America, have returned their badges to the National Council to protest discrimination against gay scouts and leaders.
–Over 300,000 people have signed petitions demanding that the BSA change its discriminatory practices.
–UPS and Intel have dropped funding. They join the thousands of former Boy Scouts, Eagle Scouts, and volunteers who have walked away from supporting the organization.
–Membership is down 47% in the Cub Scouts and 20% in the Boy Scouts.
Despite these warning signs that the BSA is continually losing support, the National Board avoided a decision to reverse discrimination. At issue is the part of the Scout Oath which states that each scout has a duty to self:
DUTY TO SELF: Keeping yourself physically strong means taking care of your body. Eat the right foods and build your strength. Staying mentally awake means learn all you can, be curious, and ask questions. Being morally straight means living your life with honesty, being clean in your speech and actions, and being a person of strong character.
It’s the morally straight part that seems to be giving the National Board a major wedgy. While the term “morally straight” is open to interpretation, the Family Research Council and 41 “allied organizations” ran an ad in USA Today urging the BSA not to “surrender to financial or political pressures by corporate elites on the issue of homosexuality.? Their ad states that, “Every Scout takes an oath to keep himself morally straight” and that “The Boy Scouts have every right to include sexual conduct in how they define that term.”
So despite overwhelming public opinion that discrimination in the BSA needs to go the way of the dinosaur, the National Board took the coward’s way out. In direct contradiction to the stated mission of The Boy Scouts of America which is “to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout,” they showed a complete lack of character; they took no action.
For those who have not been as intimately involved with scouting as I have, all of this must seem rather prosaic. I mean, “Who cares?” If you don’t like their policy, don’t enroll your kid in their program.
But, it’s not that simple. The Boy Scouts of America has long stood for good character, strong leadership, and what ethical and moral behavior is. But now, sadly, a small group of men and their archaic views on what morally straight means are replacing all that is good about scouting with bigotry and outright discrimination.
That is too bad for the BSA. Their reputation is tarnished, and they may never recover. It is too bad too for the many young men who could benefit from the education and fun that scouting offers. Many won’t participate because they refuse to be associated with an organization that discriminates.
And it is also too bad for this country that a small group of men living in fear can foist their perverted views about “homosexuals” on us all. These men will be remembered, not as men of vision, but as men who let prejudice dictate their decisions.
We should all care about this. Because if the Boy Scouts of America discriminates, so can any other “private” organization. There should be no room for that in this country. The BSA needs to put its discriminatory policies and practices to bed. It’s time they acknowledge that being morally straight has nothing to do with sexual orientation. It’s time to move forward…with or without the Boy Scouts of America.
…And I’m just a mom who loves her son…