Thus, the Boy Scouts deserve credit for the decision last week to abolish its long-standing policy of denying membership to openly gay members. That decision is both right and humane. Yet, we consider it muted credit due to the Scouts’ slowness in realizing that shunning boys because of their sexual orientation is a message rooted more in discrimination than biblical morality.
All men, our Founding Fathers wrote, are created equal. That lesson — “all men,” or “all” people, in modern-day terms — mustn’t be forgotten. It’s a fundamental message America’s youth should embrace.
According to The New York Times, Wayne Brock, the Boy Scouts’ paid chief executive, told those attending the Scouts’ national meeting last week that “(T)his is not about what’s legal but what’s compassionate, caring and kind.”
We wholeheartedly agree.
The Boy Scouts’ next step — allowing openly gay leaders — may prove a more divisive decision. That’s a virtual certainty. Our view is that the Scouts shouldn’t stop here; refusing qualified leaders Scouting positions because of their sexual orientation stereotypes homosexuals as potential predators and discriminates against some who are qualified for leadership roles. By opening doors to gay leaders, the Scouts would send a valuable message: sexual orientation doesn’t define a person.
Brock and Scouting’s other leaders face a difficult chore in moving forward with the question of allowing gay leaders. In recent years, sex-abuse scandals in organizations such as the Catholic Church have ratcheted up the global focus on adults who grossly misuse their authority for sexual gain. It’s understandable for those who oversee programs involving children — schools, sports teams, churches — to be concerned that some people, regardless of sexual preference, will prey on the defenseless.
The world is home to myriad people: gay and straight; black and white; hard-working and hopelessly lazy. We are the human equivalent to the snowflake — no two alike, each beautiful in our own right. We should embrace that uniqueness.
By fully modernizing its organization, the Boy Scouts of America could come to represent a true version of this nation — a nation of people who are as diverse as they are valuable. It’s time to take that next step.