The Boy Scouts said it was keeping its ban on gays after a 2-
year review by a panel representing a 'diversity of perspectives.'
Critics said the organization was at odds with its own principles.
The Boy Scouts of America announced Tuesday that it was
affirming, after a secret two-year review, its ban on gay members.
The decision elicited widespread criticism and raised questions
about whether the world's largest youth organization was out of step
with the times - and its own principles.
Everyone from scout leaders to legal analysts pointed to the
cultural currents moving toward more inclusion of gays in US
society, from President Obama's announcement that he now personally
supports gay marriage, to the end of the US military's "don't ask,
don't tell" policy, to the Episcopal church's decision to bless same-
The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is on the wrong side of history
on this issue and will "wither away" if it sticks to this policy,
says David Cohen, professor at the Earle Mack School of Law at
Drexel University in Philadelphia.
Pointing to the 2000 Supreme Court decision that upheld the
private group's right to choose its members, he adds via e-mail,
"just because the Supreme Court has said the Boy Scouts are allowed
to have this policy does not mean that it is just or that it is
consistent with basic human compassion."
In its statement announcing the decision to continue the ban on
both gay scouts and leaders, the Texas-based Boy Scouts of America
(BSA) cited support from parents and said the decision was the
result of a two-year review by a panel that represented "a diversity
of perspectives and opinions."
Further, the statement, which did not identify the panel members,
said, "the review included forthright and candid conversation and
extensive research and evaluations - both from within Scouting and
from outside of the organization."
But group members say the move flies in the face of the
organization's own stated values.
"It is reprehensible that BSA would exclude gays," says Michael
Reinemer, a current Scout leader and former Boy Scout who lives in
Annandale, Va. While the Boy Scouts is a private organization, he
says, "it is also an American institution that develops character.
Its highest level of leadership training (Wood Badge) requires
involvement in bringing diversity to your scout unit."
While the Boy Scouts may have the right to discriminate, the
public also has the right to choose other options for young boys,
says Professor Cohen, adding, "as each successive public opinion
poll shows, Americans are not comfortable with bigotry against
lesbian and gay individuals. Continuing this policy is a recipe for
the Boy Scouts to wither away and be remembered as a bigoted
organization that refused to change with the times. …