The Boy Scouts’ New Policy

Last week delegates representing the Boy Scouts of America voted to change the organization’s membership policy.  The traditional Scout policy excluded openly gay members.  Liberal activists have fought against that policy for a number of years, but have been resisted by traditionalists.  Now the Scouts are trying out something of a compromise.  The new policy retains the ban on openly gay Scout leaders while lifting the ban on gay members.  Now an openly gay youth will be able to be a member, but an openly gay man will not be able to be a leader.

Over at Public Discourse I argue that this new policy cannot last long.  There is a certain incoherence to it, I contend, that makes it impossible to defend.  After all, what rational justification could one think of for admitting gay youths but banning gay leaders?  If the Scouts hold to their old view that there is something morally problematic about homosexuality, why admit openly gay members?  If they have rejected that belief, why exclude openly gay leaders?  If they are worried about the possibility of scandalous sexual activity among members, isn’t that a danger both among members as well as between leaders and members?


This is a problem not just in the court of public opinion, where gay rights activists will certainly continue to press for further change, but also in courts of law as well, where we can expect actual lawsuits.  About 13 years ago, in Boy Scouts v. Dale, the Scouts prevailed in a legal challenge to their membership policy.  The challenge was based on a state anti-discrimination law, but the Scouts were able to persuade a majority of Supreme Court justices that they had a First Amendment right to control their own membership on issues central to the organization’s expressive aims.  For that argument to work, however, the organization’s membership policies have to be presentable as a real reflection of its moral ideology, and not just as a pretext to engage in discrimination.  The Scouts have undermined their ability to make that case by the compromise they have struck.

The whole article can be found here.



  • Delphin

    It is time for faithful Catholics to pick up their talents (political support, funds, education, morals, etc.) and walk away from the liberal (leftist) agenda, wherever it penetrates. Once our government took up political “arms” against us, that moral war was declared. We must stop acting as though we’re in a “friendly” environment, we are experiencing persecution of the second-third order. We’d best start acting accordingly.

  • Doug Sinrud

    Now that the BSA has budged from their policies, the next move by the liberal gay activists will be to force the removal of God from the BSA activities.

  • mpope

    it’s a tragedy, that tweens and teens should be tricked into identifying themselves as anything but ‘boys’, but that IS the world in which we meet these boys– a world that has badly manipulated them.

    but, it’s possible the pro-gay advocacy and corporate sponsorship that drove the BSA vote may have unwittingly given the US Church a marvelous teaching moment to reiterate the dignity of the human person, to make clear the difference between a person’s tendencies and behaviors AND to speak again to the truth that a person’s value is not measure by his/ her proclivities. it also gives the Church (and its members) the opportunity to proclaim (in true charity and without patronizing) that change is not only possible but probable. (even without patronizing, this message will enrage many pro-gay activists who insist that sexual orientation is an indelible imprint. we know it’s not indelible. we simply need to be careful to not meet their rage with our own.)

    I believe the conversation should have never advanced as far as BSA taking a vote, but if the vote was unavoidable, lifting the ban (while re-iterating the enforcement of moral behavior) was the right choice according to the CCCs warning to avoid all unjust discrimination. (2358)

    i believe it’s the right decision, but, as Mr. Holloway suggests, might the admission of openly gay tweens and teens while upholding morality within the troop, be, practically speaking, an untenable position?

    yes. it may be.

    might BSA fall apart? sadly, yes. it might. (on the other hand, fiercely pro-gay corporations may find their pockets deeper for BSA than ever before.)

    are gay adult Scouters the next concession? probably.

    My husband and I, parents of an Eagle Scout, ended our participation in BSA more than a decade ago because the Troops in which our younger sons participated failed to uphold the “morally straight” aspect of the BSA oath. Boys regularly engaged in lewd conversations of sexual exploits (real or imagined), Pornography was passed around at camp-outs. Adult Scouters dismissed the behavior as “boys will be boys.” We would not continue to put our sons in the occasion of sin.

    I wonder that such lax troops will now, with these open admissions, find themselves entirely ill equipped for the task of upholding the ‘morally straight’ aspect of the oath.

    so it’s possible that Scouting, (at least the lax troops) might collapse. but is our priority as Catholic Christians to keep Scouting from collapsing? I don’t see it that way. I see i’m responsible to uphold the Church’s teachings on human dignity and avoiding unjust discrimination AND I’m responsible to choose morally straight environments for our sons.

    sadly, many Catholic parents may decide that BSA does not both demands..

    in other words, a Catholic parent can decide the decision was right, but the potential is too risky. a Catholic parent can walk away from BSA.



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