If you’re gay and have dreams of becoming an Eagle Scout, today’s news might clip your wings a bit.
After two years of deliberation, a special committee concluded on Tuesday that the Boy Scouts of America should maintain its policy of excluding homosexuals. Said national spokesman, Deron Smith, to the AP, the 11-member committee agreed emphatically that “this policy is absolutely the best policy for the Boy Scouts.”
The ban has been in place since 2000, when the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that opposition to homosexuality is part of the BSA’s “expressive message,” and allowing homosexuals as adult leaders would violate Scout values.
Critics say that the ruling’s wording has allowed the organization to maintain its de facto policy of excluding all gays.
Zach Wahls, a heterosexual Eagle Scout with two lesbian mothers, has been vocal in his support of diversifying the organization. Jennifer Tyrrell, a lesbian mother dismissed from her role as a den mother and treasurer, is planning to deliver a petition to the Boy Scouts’ Irving, Texas, headquarters on Wednesday in an effort to be reinstated.
The organization, however, says that its decision is simply in the best interests of parents who are concerned about how to introduce the topic of homosexuality to their children.
“The vast majority of the parents of youth we serve value their right to address issues of same-sex orientation within their family, with spiritual advisers, and at the appropriate time and in the right setting,” said chief executive Bob Mazzuca to Reuters.
“The decision by the Boy Scouts of America to exclude gays puts them squarely on the wrong side of history,” responded Rick Jacobs, founder and chair of the Courage Campaign, a network of human rights activists. “The Boy Scouts are supposed to be about setting examples for our youth. Discrimination and alienation is not the example most Americans have in mind.”
“While a majority of our membership agrees with our policy,” said the BSA’s Mazzuca, “we fully understand that no single policy will accommodate the many diverse views among our membership or society.”
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Oliver Lee has been covering social justice and other issues for TakePart since 2009. Originally from Baltimore, he lives and writes on a quiet, tree-lined street in Brooklyn. Email Oliver | @oliverung