Earlier this week, as LGBTQNation reports, Chuck Norris published an article in AmmoLand.com (the full text of the article can be found here) that claimed that Obama was working to create a “pro-gay” Boy Scouts of America; he claims that there have been too many coincidences that correspond to Obama’s increasingly pro-marriage equality stance and James Tunley’s (the CEO of Ernst & Young and the only member of the board Boy Scouts’ board to say that gays should be allowed into the BSA) announcement.
As a bit of background, the Boy Scouts have repeatedly stated that openly gay scouts cannot serve as role models most recently in February 2002 (the text of this resolution can be found here), although they have never been explicitly banned from the BSA.
First, I should point out that, in the same press release cited above, the Boy Scouts said that they have a duty to instill values in youth, and that an “[A]vowed homosexual” cannot serve as an appropriate role model for the youth that go through the BSA. According to Norris, the Boy Scouts of America can reserve the right, under the First Amendment, to deny gays, atheists, and agnostics the right to serve as role models or leaders in the BSA (according to the press release, this is not something that can be decided by individual scout chapters).
It’s here that, I guess, would be a good place to differentiate between being “pro-gay” and being indifferent and treating everyone with the same equal rights that should be afforded them.
This blog, I would say, is “pro-gay.” In it, I explicitly advocate on behalf of the LGBT+ community, and advocate for equal rights for gay and lesbian couples, be it in regards to civil marriage or in a religious setting (like a synagogue). I do so unabashedly. In comparison, allowing openly gay scouts to serve as role models for younger leaders would not, in any way, shape, or form, endorse the LGBT+ community. It would be sending out the message that sexual orientation has nothing to do with one’s ability to instill traditional virtues into younger scouts — values such as integrity and equality, which I think are traditional leaders for anyone and everyone. Allowing LGBT+ scouts to serve as role models would not, in any way, say that scouts should march in Pride Parades or go partying in gay bars. It would simply show that effective role models and leaders are judged by the content of their character as opposed as whom they love. That’s not being “pro-gay” — that’s not even special treatment. That’s just being indifferent.
If the Boy Scouts of America wanted to be “pro-gay,” they would create programming specifically geared toward including LGBT+ scouts or funding programming for LGBT+ students. If they wanted to be “pro-gay,” they would create medals and awards for LGBT+ scouts and specifically for them. Allowing openly LGBT+ scouts to assume leadership roles within the BSA would not, in any way, be endorsing the LGBT+ community — instead, it would be showing that sexual orientation is not something that affects the virtues necessary for leadership within the BSA. In fact, showing younger scouts that sexual orientation is not something that is used as a factor in determining a leader would be sending out the message to younger scouts that it, too can be the same character-molding experience that it has been for so many other people before them, people like former President John F. Kennedy, who had this to say about the Boy Scouts of America at their 50th anniversary (this text comes from the same article that Norris wrote):
It has helped to mold character, to form friendships, to provide a worthwhile outlet for the natural energies of growing boys and to train these boys to become good citizens of the future. In a very real sense, the principles learned and practiced as Boy Scouts add to the strength of America and her ideals.
These ideals are not preserving the Bible or religion. These ideals are the creating of the Great American Melting Pot, a place where everyone was offered the same opportunity.
If the Boy Scouts of America really embody and encourage American ideals, then it is time for it to show that, so too, LGBT+ scouts have the same opportunity as their straight counterparts in the organization. If they truly to foster these American values, then they have the obligation to offer gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender scouts the opportunities for leadership and judging leaders based on their character, not on their sexual orientation.