The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) will begin accepting openly gay youths into its ranks on New Year’s Day, 2014.
This sea change in BSA policy has raised many questions, from pragmatic concerns about the logistics of showering to symbolic issues, like whether Scouts can march in gay pride parades.
National BSA executive board member Brad Haddock hopes that this transition will be as ‘eventful…this January 1 as the Y2K scare,” in which frightening scenarios about computer and network failures due to shortsighted programming never came to pass. Ideally, he said, “[i]t’s business as usual, nothing happens and we move forward.”
Some churches have chosen to sever ties with the organization — and conservatives have formed a new one, Trail Life USA, to operate in its stead — but the massive defections feared by BSA leaders and predicted by conservative pundits haven’t materialized. Two of BSA’s biggest sponsors, the Catholic and Mormon churches, have maintained ties with the organization.
“There hasn’t been a whole lot of fallout,” said Haddock. “If a church said they wouldn’t work with us, we’d have a church right down the street say, ‘We’ll take the troop.’”
The BSA has mitigated parental fears about homosexual activities by insisting that Scouts are an asexual organization. According to BSA documents, “[a]ny sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting. No member may use Scouting to promote or advance any social or political position or agenda, including on the matter of sexual orientation.”
This stricture means that, officially, Scouts will not be able to march in gay pride parades in uniform. However, it also means that should they choose to march in said parades out of uniform, they cannot be punished by the Scouts for doing so.
Scott Eric Kaufman is the proprietor of the AV Club's Internet Film School and, in addition to Raw Story, also writes for Lawyers, Guns & Money. He earned a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of California, Irvine in 2008.
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