I guess I can’t really take any personal credit for this, but I’m gratified that a chorus of protest, including mine, has prompted the Boy Scouts of America to re-evaluate its policy banning participation by gays and lesbians. (The Girl Scouts have always had a policy of non-discrimination.)
After re-affirming the exclusionary policy as recently as last summer, the BSA announced in January that it may change the rule so that each local unit could decide whether to admit homosexual leaders and scouts. This proposal triggered so much heated debate — within and outside of scouting – that the organization tabled the matter until its next meeting, in May.
It will be interesting to see whether the families who left scouting in response to the BSA’s anti-gay policy would find this new approach to be acceptable. I don’t. When my husband and I enrolled our seven-year-old in Cub Scouts last year, we knew the BSA had a reputation for being homophobic, but we hadn’t realized it was actually written into the organization’s by-laws. We discovered it when the anti-gay policy was re-affirmed last summer, and we left scouting at that time. (Lilith, Winter 2012-2013)
I saw it as a social justice issue that was closely tied to my identity as a Jew. I was especially disappointed that with more than 160 Boy Scout and Cub Scout groups affiliated with Jewish organizations, there wasn’t a bigger protest from Jewish scouting leaders. I think that’s finally starting to change. According to an article in The Jewish Week, officials of the National Jewish Committee on Scouting, which serves as an advisory committee to the Boy Scouts of America, took a vote of their regional chairs and found overwhelming support for an end to the ban on homosexuals in scouting. Members of the committee will push the BSA to change its policy, the article said.