BSA Revises Scout Law

“A Scout is Hypocritical” is the new thirteenth point of the Scout Law. That’s the only logical conclusion from this week’s vote that opens membership to gay youth, but leaves in place a ban on gay adult leaders.

The Chief Scout Executive has called lifting the ban on gay youth a step that is “compassionate, caring and kind.” If that’s true, then leaving in place the ban on gay leaders must be exactly the opposite: callous, hard-hearted and cruel.

As an Eagle Scout and a former Scoutmaster who is gay, and a man who holds dear the values instilled in his Scouting days, I find this “compromise” odious and intolerable.

Before this decision, the BSA could at least argue they were taking a principled stand based on dearly-held institutional values. We could disagree on that stand, but it was reasonable position. They held that being gay was inconsistent with the Scout Oath’s promise to be “morally straight.” They were within their rights to interpret their own teachings that way.

Now what? Now they are employing situational ethics to justify discrimination on one hand, while practicing inclusion on the other. Now the BSA now speak with forked tongue. The very definition of hypocrisy.

What are troop leaders to do when this topic arises in troop meetings, as it surely will? What’s the lesson for the boys? How does one relate this move to the values one is trying to instill? What’s the takeaway? It’s OK to employ double-standards?

And what’s the message for the now-accepted gay youth? You’re going through a phase? It’s OK to be a gay teen, but you’d better get your act together by the time you turn 18, or you’re out?

Usually, I’m a fan of incremental change, but this is a mess of epic proportions.

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