By nature an upbeat and optimistic person, today I am experiencing feelings that are hard to describe. Upbeat they are not. More a combination of sadness and mourning about the fact that this afternoon representatives of the 290 local councils comprising the organization of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) will vote on a proposed change in the membership policy for youth who choose to participate in the program. Whatever the outcome of the vote – and other proposals may also be presented and considered – the fact that such a potential change is even being considered is the issue.
The current and longstanding BSA membership policy, which applies equally to youth members and adult leaders, denies membership to “open or avowed homosexuals.” The proposed resolution, in its first 731 words, includes language consistent with Scouting’s historic principled foundation and purpose. In the last sentence, it abandons this safe, sensitive and prudent policy in favor of what can most charitably be described as presumably well-intentioned, but calamitous:
“No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.”
Because the inclusion of this sentence legitimizes homosexuality, and “sexual orientation or preference” is just an alternative way of saying “open or avowed,” the adoption of this proposed change in youth membership criteria will seriously jeopardize the cornerstone of morality that for 103 years has given Boy Scout youth, their parents and adult leaders cause to invest expectation and effort in this outstanding organization.
That national leadership would even consider such a ricochet off into the realm of sophistry and hazard prompted critical commentary of those leaders in June 2012. What then seemed more the mischief primarily of two members of the BSA national board has, by “evolution” or metastasis or some other erosive influence, brought us to the meeting and decision today.
If wisdom prevails in those deliberations, the 1,400 local council representatives convened will not support the proposed changes in BSA youth membership criteria. By defeating the proposal, they will avoid becoming their own worst enemy of the counsel Scout leaders and parents have earnestly conveyed to youth they have sought constructively to influence: “Just because something may at the moment be popular; just because you may be inclined to justify it with the idea that ‘everyone else is doing it’ does not make it either right or acceptable.”
If the proposed change is adopted, there will be no comfort or satisfaction in the quip, “Even when you foul up, all is not lost; you can always serve as a pitiful example.”