By Jordan Barth
On Feb. 6, the Boy Scouts of America announced it would hold off until at least May on making any changes to its long-held and controversial membership policy. The policy excludes openly gay or lesbian youth or adults from participating in Scouting.
The release of more than 30 years of various lawsuits against the organization have brought the membership policy to light and have forced the Boy Scouts of America to react. Further complicating the issue, many units are sponsored by religious groups.
The most prominent religious organizations sponsoring units support banning the participation of gays and lesbians in the organization.
To earn the rank of Eagle Scout, scouts must earn five lower ranks, earn 21 merit badges, and complete a time-intensive and service-minded project benefitting the community and serve two years in various leadership positions.
Roughly 4 percent of Americans have been bestowed with this honor throughout Scouting’s 103-year history. There are numerous examples of Eagle Scout candidates being denied solely based on their sexuality. Many parents have been turned away from leadership training based solely on their sexuality as well.
Citizens, interest groups, and elected leaders have not shied away from providing their opinion on this issue.
According to USnews.com, many conservative interest groups including the American Family Association believe that the Boy Scouts of America are “Putting the sexual integrity of the young boys that are entrusted to their care at risk.”
Only days before the vote, in opposition, activists and scout leaders delivered four boxes with a petition containing 1.4 million signatures.
“Every day that the Boy Scouts of America delay action is another day that discrimination prevails,” said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign in a recent Associated Press article.
CCM student Jesse Ray Nardone said he believes that the BSA made a good decision. “I am neutral on the issue, but it should be discussed as a whole and possibly by the scouting community which is my thought,” Nardone said.
According to the scout law, “a scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.”
The scout later promises in the scout oath to always do his best “to do his duty to God and… country; to obey the scout law; to help people at all times and to keep himself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.”