Community reacts to Boy Scouts’ LGBT controversy
Published: Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 04:02
Sophomore Erik Peterson, who was a boy scout for 12 years, says he had a rather religious scouting experience, which involved some homophobic members, during his time as scout. However, he says was not even aware of the group’s policy regarding homosexuality until the media started covering it.
“Scouts helped make me who I am today. Its universal values should be available to all boys,” he says.
The Boy Scouts of America announced earlier this month that it will wait until its annual meeting in May to announce if this is the time to eliminate their anti-homosexuality policy at the national level.
As of now, the Boy Scouts of America denies openly gay members access to the organization and the Scouts highest rank, the Eagle Award. Due to heavy media critique and a push from LGBT advocates across the country, the organization has debated abolishing the policy in favor of a new one that would allow individual troops to decide if they would allow gay members and leaders.
“The volunteer officers of the Boy Scouts of America’s National Executive Board concluded that due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a more deliberate review of its membership policy,” the organizations board said in a written statement earlier this month.
This idea is not a foreign one for the Scouts, as it is similar to the one that allowed all African Americans into troops in 1974 and women into leadership positions in 1988.
With a decision looming, each side has stepped up to make their voices heard by the council. Both sides have utilized websites such as Change.org, a petition-creating website, to gather support from individuals worldwide.
Although Haven has been unable to organize a formal protest or petition against the Boy Scouts due to a limited number of sources, junior Ian Pass, Haven’s director of publicity, says individual members of the organization have participated in various petitions and campaigns against the current policy.
“It’s personally irritating since it’s still saying that it’s okay to discriminate,” Pass says.
Because of the current system, and proposed change, Pass thinks individual troops will automatically be able to exclude gay members even if the board decides to overturn its policy.
Sophomore Tyler Dolgos, a former Boy Scout, shares the same view as other former members of the organization, saying that the current policy is unnecessary and discriminatory.
“Excluding gay members from troops goes against a lot that Scouts stand for,” Dolgos says. “In the Scout law, some of the defining qualities of a scout are helpful, friendly and kind.”
Despite experiencing homophobia in his troop, Peterson says his experience in Scouts played a huge role in his growing up, instilling in him important values and principles.
In regards to abolishing the policy, Peterson says that tolerance has come a long way, as it was a completely different era when the rule was first created.
“We shouldn’t be afraid to move past those times,” he says.
Communication professor Paul Brewer says the organization has been under pressure because of the public’s stance on the issue and that groups, such as the U.S. Military, have changed their stance on gay rights and allowed LGBT individuals to participate.
And while he says Boy Scouts also may risk offending more conservative groups, in the long run, overturning the ban serves to help the bring the group in line with the public’s current stance on gay rights. If they keep the ban, they could be seen as “on the wrong side of history,” he says.
“Even more to the point, the Girl Scouts of America already accepts LGBT members, and I haven’t noticed any successful boycotts of Girl Scout cookies because of that policy,” Brewer says.