This op-ed originally appeared in the Washington Post on April 22, 2013
The Boy Scouts are one of the great jewels of American culture. The success of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is a result in no small part of the organization’s commitment to a set of ideas and principles that have guided the program for more than 100 years. Until recently, the BSA was unwavering in its conviction that these values and principles were “timeless.”
But now those values are under attack. The Boy Scouts are the victims of an aggressive, well-funded and relentless campaign to inject sex and politics into Scouting. Homosexual-rights activists have aggressively pushed a handful of top BSA leaders to consider changing its long-standing policy of not allowing open homosexuality in the Boy Scouts. On Friday, the Boy Scouts offered a resolution that caves to that outside pressure and could pass when the national council votes on it in May.
Virtually every news story on this topic erroneously frames this issue as the Boy Scouts “bans gays” or “discriminates against gays.” This is simply not true. Contrary to what the media might report, the Boy Scoutsdo not discriminate against homosexuals. The BSA membership application does not even ask about sexual orientation.
To make matters worse, there is a deliberate campaign of misinformation about who the Boy Scouts of America are and what they stand for. The media has been complicit, throwing around cries of “discrimination” and “equal rights” following the lead of these activists.
The great irony of this is that, while on one hand, the national media claims Scouting bans homosexuals, on the other hand, they have been consistently showcasing homosexuals Scouts and leaders in uniform who have been in the program for many years, all who are claiming with a straight face that somehow the Boy Scouts do not allow them.
The fact is that veterans of Scouting will tell you there are currently Scouts and adult leaders in uniform who have same-sex attractions and who are in good standing with the program. They are discreet, though; they are private, they are discerning, and most of all, they conduct themselves appropriately in front of other young boys. Further, there has never been a witch hunt in the BSA to find or remove its members with a same-sex attraction.
So if homosexuals are already allowed in Scouting, then what is the national controversy about?
The real issue is this: Homosexual-rights activists are not satisfied with membership in good standing and being allowed to fully participate like everyone else. They want to be able to openly promote homosexuality. They want to promote a gay-rights political agenda. They want to act out publicly and be “loud and proud.” They want to inappropriately inject sex and politics into the BSA program, where children as young as six years old are involved. Not on this dad’s watch. This behavior and open homosexual conduct is exactly what the current BSA policy prohibits, a prohibition that we as parents demand that the program reaffirm if it wants our continued support.
There is nothing stopping those who do not like Scouting’s stable and time-tested membership policies from creating their own organization without changing ours.
Changing the BSA membership policy is completely unnecessary. It solves no old problem and will only create myriad new problems for the organization, including upending parental control over the issues of sex and politics, forcing political agendas on young children, and transforming the Boy Scouts into yet another battleground for the homosexual agenda.
In February, BSA National Council leaders instructed committees to “listen to perspectives and concerns” in the Scouting community before a vote on May 22 and 23, which will determine whether to make a change to the existing policy.
Hearing that BSA leaders say they are in a listening mode, concerned parents, Scout leaders, Scouting donors and Eagle Scouts from across the country have joined the OnMyHonor.Net national coalition to say to the voting delegates of the national council sex and politics have no place in Scouting. When it comes to young boys, parents should have the final say, not agenda-driven activists.
Former U.S. Rep. Richard T. Schulze, Pennsylvania Republican, a recipient of the rare Distinguished Eagle Scout Award, recently commented, “What kind of a message are we sending to our young people if the very leaders who are teaching Boy Scouts to be brave cannot even find the courage to stand firm and avoid caving in to peer pressure from Hollywood and political activists?”
I could not agree more.
We implore the delegates to the National BSA Convention to affirm Scouting’s current membership policy along with the principles of the hard-fought and won 2000 U.S. Supreme Court case of BSA vs. Dale, which protects Scouting from further legal attacks and sets the program back on the firm foundation of principle for the future.
John Stemberger is an Eagle Scout and president of On My Honor (OnMyHonor.net).