More than 1,500 New Yorkers gathered today in Manhattan to mourn the death of a 32 year-old gay man, who was shot down on Friday just blocks away from the historic Stonewall Inn in an apparent act of anti-gay bias.
Boy Scout brass feign 'tight control' as backlash continues
Executives at the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) are feigning ‘tight control’ of the organization, despite mounting pressure from within their own ranks to end the group’s anti-gay policies.
The fact remains, however, that a growing number of Scouts, Councils and volunteers (not to mention multi-million dollar sponsors) are growing weary of the BSA’s outdated and grossly discriminatory ban on gay scouts and leaders; some have abandoned it altogether.
In what can only be called a limp exercise in damage control, BSA spokesperson Deron Smith, reassured the Dallas Morning News today that Councils remain obedient and docile, adhering to the anti-gay ban as imposed by the BSA autocracy.
“The BSA national office maintains tight control,” writes Morning News reporter Scott Parks. “My reporting on this issue has not found any BSA council in which the chief scout executive is openly defying the national office on this issue — and the buck stops with them,” Parks continues – a lie parroted by BSA spokesperson Deron Smith.
[Smith] said he is not aware of any scout executive who is not following the current anti-gay membership policy.
“Like the rest of the people in this country, our scout executives hold many different views on this policy, but they all agree to abide by it and we take them at their word and don’t ask them about their personal opinions on this policy or how they interpret it,” Smith said.
What Parks’ reporting failed to find (and what Smith fails to admit) is that several Councils are not only overlooking the ban on gay scouts, they’re also adopting fully inclusive non-discrimination policies that bar the removal of any scout based on his sexual orientation.
In 2001, for instance, the Boston Minuteman Council adopted this statement of nondiscrimination:
The mission of the Boston Minuteman Council, Boy Scouts of America is to provide character development, citizenship training, growth in physical and mental fitness, and leadership opportunities for the young people of the Boston metropolitan area. We pride ourselves on the diversity of our members, and we are committed to providing young people with an educational and stimulating environment in which to learn and grow. Through the Scout Oath and Law, we pledge to respect all people and to defend the rights of others. Bias, intolerance and unlawful discrimination are unacceptable within the ranks of the Boston Minuteman Council.
The Boston Minuteman Council serves youth through volunteers in Packs, Troops and other units without regard to color, race, religion, ethnic background, sexual orientation or economic status.
We have done our best to live up to this statement in the decade since its adoption. (Emphasis added.)
It seems unlikely that Smith would be unaware of a policy installed more than a decade ago. Rather, says Boston Minuteman Council spokesperson, Sean Martin, not only have Smith and the BSA been long aware of the policy, but there have also been zero repercussions because of it.
When The Wall Street Journal asked Smith about the Minuteman policy in July 2012, “Mr. Smith… said he had no information about the Boston group's practice.” It would appear that he didn’t look into it afterward either.
And as for Council officials, who are keen to stand idly by and propagate discrimination at the BSA’s behest – not so, reports the Boston Globe:
Outgoing Minuteman Council president Dick DeWolfe said in a recent interview, ''If someone raises his hand at one of our board meetings and says, `By the way, I'm homosexual and I just want you all to know that,' the position we've taken is that we're going to do nothing.'' Incoming president Bill Van Faasen seconded that, adding, ''We've basically tried to take a page from the Girl Scouts.''
Of course, the Boston Minuteman Council is just one of eleven BSA Councils, serving over 260,000 Scouts, that refuses to shun qualified and devoted Scouts simply because they’re gay. The Northern Star Council, which represents more than 75,000 Scouts, for instance, told the Wall Street Journal in July that it, too, does not discriminate "with regard to ethnicity, religion, gender, disability, and/or sexual orientation…."
It’s no surprise then that, as more Councils turn their backs on the unelected officials demanding discrimination, that the BSA will continue misleading media and the American public. GLAAD, Scouts for Equality, and the people whose lives continue to be adversely impacted by this policy, will keep calling for change, however, until the BSA’s ban on gay scouts and leaders meets its inevitable end.