By Teresa Welsh |
Last week, the Boy Scouts of America quietly proposed a resolution that would lift the organization's ban on gay members. "While perspectives and opinions vary significantly, parents, adults in the Scouting community and teens alike tend to agree that youth should not be denied the benefits of Scouting," the organization said in a statement. Voting members of the BSA's National Council will decide whether or not to approve the resolution next month.
The Scouts' ban on gay members has become a hot topic in recent years. During the 2012 presidential election, both President Obama and his opponent, Mitt Romney, voiced support for overturning the ban. "The president believes the Boy Scouts is a valuable organization that has helped educate and build character in American boys for more than a century. He also opposes discrimination in all forms, and as such opposes this policy that discriminates on basis of sexual orientation," said a White House spokesman.
The Boy Scouts of America proposed the change following a survey of some one million of its members, which the organization decribed as "the most comprehensive listening exercise in its history." Though a majority of members supported keeping the ban in place, "a majority of younger parents and teens opposed the policy," as ABC News reported.
However, even if the resolution passes, the Boy Scouts will continue to prevent openly gay adults from serving as leaders in the organization. This has led some lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocates to say that the policy change is weak, at best. "What message does this resolution send to the gay Eagle Scout who, as an adult, wants to continue a lifetime of scouting by becoming a troop leader?" asked Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign.
Meanwhile, several religious organizations – many of which sponsor scout units – remain opposed to lifting the ban. As the Guardian reported, "The Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Southern Baptist churches have all lobbied for a continuation of the ban." About 70 percent of Boy Scout units are chartered by faith-based organizations, according to the Washington Post.
So should the Boy Scouts lift its ban on gay members? Here's the Debate Club's take:
Rob Schwarzwalder Senior Vice President of the Family Research Council
Ricardo Lara State Senator from California