In a surprise move, the Boy Scouts of America has announced that it is considering changing its policies that currently ban gay scouts and members from the organization. This comes just over six months after the Scouts defended its policy of discrimination. But now they’re singing a different tune.
Whether the opinion of national leaders of the Scouts has genuinely changed or not remains to be seen; the organization has faced many criticisms over the past few years claiming that permitting gay membership would be inconsistent with the Scouts’ oath to be “morally straight.” Some see the move as a fold under public pressure that supports LGBT equality more with each passing day.
But many are also celebrating the possible ban lift. The lift wouldn’t necessarily condone being openly gay, but it would allow local scouting groups to determine their own policies on the matter. At the local level, groups could either allow or disallow participation of openly gay people according to their own beliefs. This means that the Boy Scout Council Executive Board in Los Angeles (leaders there include Bill Sonneborn or Gregory Mitchell) could rule differently on the ban than the Boy Scout Council Executive Board in Alabama.
Certainly such a policy would be leaps ahead of the current one, but it could also be incredibly hard to manage from a national standpoint. As of yet, the Scouts have not released any information on how they would implement and manage groups with differing opinions on the matter.
“The Boy Scouts of America have heard from scouts, corporations and millions of Americans that discriminating against gay scouts and scout leaders is wrong,” said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick. “Scouting is a valuable institution and this change will only strengthen its core principles of fairness and respect.”
Zach Wahls, who has been advocating for change in the organization for the past seven months, is an Eagle Scout who was raised by two moms. “This is absolutely a step in the right direction,” he said. “Discrimination has no place in scouting.”