This is a refreshing take on why the Boy Scouts discrimination against gay scouts and scout leaders and gay people is problematic for all young men.
The Boy Scouts' policy is contributing to the problem of prejudice against gays. Although the organization officially denies making efforts to discover anyone's sexual orientation – much as the military maintains a “don't ask, don't tell” policy – it also doesn't hesitate to expel outed members. It's ironic that the conservatives running the Boy Scouts, who are typically proponents of limited, unobtrusive government, concern themselves with the innermost lives of their members.
If the Boy Scouts is a private organization, as the Supreme Court has held repeatedly, it has every right to enforce its code of ethics and morality. But if it aspires to be a distinctly American institution embracing a democratic, multicultural society, then it should approach sexual orientation not as a church would, but as an accountable public entity that doesn't allow discrimination. Public schools, after all, play host to the Boy Scouts more than any other type of facility; Mormon and Catholic churches come in second and third.
Part of the Boy Scouts' mission has been to protect and project traditional notions of masculine identity. That may be why many local Scout leaders, as well as the central leadership in Texas, resist even acknowledging the possible presence of homosexuals.
But as the Boy Scouts of America enters its second century, it should recognize that, despite all it has done for the youth of this country, it has more to do. Like the U.S. military, it should understand that embracing a broader definition of masculinity can reinforce a public culture in which misogyny and homophobia are no longer welcome. Discrimination is not a value that we should be teaching our youth.
Written by an Eagle Scout in the Philadelphia Inquirer. This is about far more than publicly subsidized rent. It is about leadership for young men across the nation.
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