Recently we reported on a Girl Scouts branch that rejected oodles of money when transphobic earmarks were applied to a donation. Some of you lamented that the Boy Scouts were still so behind the times/homophobic. Well, good news! The Boy Scouts of America has officially announced that its ban on gay scout leaders is no more.
Buzzfeed reports the ruling has been decided by a unanimous vote. And can we just say, it’s insane this has taken so long. I remember gay scouts being an issue in the late 1990s, and the organization didn’t officially allow gay boys to join until 2013.
And yet there’s a big fat “but” to contend with.
The language in this ruling means that the Boy Scouts of America no longer holds a hard, official line against gay men and women who might want to give back to their communities by teaching kids how to camp, work together and sell popcorn. However, while gay people may not be officially banned, that doesn’t mean their applications won’t be rejected because they are gay. Blame that old chestnut “religious freedom,” or as we call it “big ugly bigotry.” Basically, each Boy Scout charter gets to decide “its own religious and moral conclusions about the specific meaning and application of” this ruling. So consider that a loophole for “not in my backyard.”
Even Boy Scout president Robert Gates, who pushed for the move back in May, seemed to be begrudging in this decision, saying “We must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be. The status quo in our movement’s membership standards cannot be sustained.”
Still, activists like Executive director of Scouts for Equality Zach Wahls are hopeful. He declared:
“For decades, the Boy Scouts of America’s ban on gay adults has stood as a towering example of explicit, institutional homophobia in one of America’s most important and recognizable civic organizations. While this policy change is not perfect — BSA’s religious chartering partners will be allowed to continue to discriminate against gay adults — it is difficult to overstate the importance of today’s announcement.”
Kristy Puchko can’t believe we’re still talking about bigoted Boy Scout troops.