Joyce L. Arnold, Liberally Independent, Queer Talk, equality activist, writer.

Yesterday the Boy Scouts of America announced the results of a previously unknown two year “evaluation” regarding the BSA membership standards and policy. As you read the excerpt, note how carefully it’s worded, avoiding actually naming the specific focus of the evaluation until about half-way through. It isn’t that everyone doesn’t know what they’re talking about, of course, but the decision about what words not to use is significant.

A reminder that in 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court up-held this policy. It’s become more controversial since then, and I’m guessing this “evaluation” will energize those challenging the policy.

The press release is headlined, “After Two-Year Evaluation, Boy Scouts of America Affirms Membership Standards and Announces No Change in Policy.” In short, it says that gays aren’t welcomed as Scouts or as leaders.

After careful consideration of a resolution asking the Boy Scouts of America to reconsider its longstanding membership standards policy, today the organization affirmed its current policy, stating that it remains in the best interest of Scouting and that there will be no further action taken on the resolution.

It seems reasonable that to understand the “best interest of Scouting,” a look at their mission, law and pledge would be helpful. So before continuing with the press release, a pause. From the About BSA page:

Mission
The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law.

So we can assume, it seems, that the “values” the decision teaches are not only that the (un-named) gays aren’t welcomed, even avoiding naming them is a “value” choice. The Oath that presumably expresses such values:

Scout Oath
On my honor I will do my best
to do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
to help other people at all times;
to keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.

Okay, “morally straight” is just too easy, so I’ll move on to the

Scout Law
A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.

Apparently a Scout can’t follow this “law” if he happens to be anything but heterosexual. And apparently, a Scout isn’t expected to extend his friendly, clean behavior to the gays. The same goes for those in leadership positions, of course. With this reminder of what underlies the conclusions of the two year evaluation, a return to the press release:

This decision follows a nearly two-year-long examination, started in 2010, of the policy commissioned by the Chief Scout Executive and national president. Under their leadership, the BSA convened a special committee of volunteers and professional leaders to evaluate whether the policy continued to be in the best interest of the organization.

The committee included a diversity of perspectives and opinions … both from within Scouting and from outside the organization. The committee’s work and conclusion is that this policy reflects the beliefs and perspectives of the BSA’s members, thereby allowing Scouting to remain focused on its mission … .

Accepting the gays would keep the Scouts from focusing on that “ethical and moral choice” mission? I think it would be helpful to know just how the very diverse committee (who are not identified) concluded this is an accurate reflection of “the BSA’s members.”

We finally get to the point when the focus of the “evaluation” is actually stated, though by way of a comment on the study rather than from the study itself.

“˜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 Bob Mazzuca, Chief Scout Executive, Boy Scouts of America.

Just how including gay boys and men, or lesbians in leadership roles, in the acceptable “diversity” category would prevent parents from talking with their children about “same-sex orientation” is unclear. Nevertheless, the BSA National Executive Board agrees with the policy.

“˜Scouting believes that good people can personally disagree on this topic and still work together to achieve the life-changing benefits to youth through Scouting. … ‘

Okay, yes, “good people can personally disagree” on just about anything. But the “life-changing benefits” are rather limited when you officially eliminate some people from the conversation.

Via Buzzfeed, Chris Geidner writes:

Eagle Scout Zach Wahls, the son of an Iowa lesbian couple who has emerged as a leading voice on the question, blasted the decision as the move of people “˜unwilling to take responsibility for their actions.’

Geidner also reports that a demand the policy be changed, with over 300,000 signatures, will be delivered to the BSA today.

At Change.org see Jennifer Tyrell’s “Boy Scouts of America: Reinstate Cub Scout leader who was removed for being gay.” Tyrell was asked to be a den mother, but then removed when the BSA found out she was lesbian.

The challenges to the adults making these decisions continue. Their attitudes have consequences in the lives of boys, and girls, and adults, heterosexual and homosexual. Polls and studies consistently show increasing support for LGBT equality. The BSA policy is out of touch, but much worse, it teaches bigotry is acceptable. And “on my honor,” that’s a thoroughly unacceptable lesson.

(Rainbow Flag via WipeOutHomophobiaFB)