Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Scout Inequality

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Scout Inequality

Article excerpt

SOME GAY Boy Scouts are celebrating the decision of the Boy Scouts of America's National Council to allow openly gay boys to participate in Scouting. It is a step forward from an all- discriminatory policy. But any form of discrimination is unacceptable.

After years of push-back from an increasingly accepting America, Boy Scout leadership recognized its policy of barring openly gay youth from Scouting and openly gay and lesbian adults from leadership was costing it members.

The controversy began here in New Jersey more than two decades ago, when then-assistant Scoutmaster James Dale was ousted because he was openly gay at Rutgers University, where he was a student. The Eagle Scout's commitment to the Boy Scouts mattered not at all to Scout leadership and so Dale took his case to the courts. Eventually, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Boy Scouts, a private organization, had the right to discriminate based on sexual orientation.

Many national corporations did not agree with that policy and sponsorships were withdrawn. Municipalities and school districts had to decide whether to allow troops to meet in public spaces. Meanwhile, conservative religious organizations - many of them sponsors of troops - rallied behind the Boy Scouts' decision to bar all homosexuals.

So what the Scouts decided Thursday, in the end, will please few on either side of the debate. Conservative members are threatening to leave rather than accept gay youth. Other moderate and liberal groups are promising to fight for full equality. We fail to understand how anyone can see Thursday's decision as a great victory; it is an incomplete action that will expel newly accepted gay youth from Scouting as soon as they reach the age of 18.

This is an illogical policy. It is OK for a gay boy to be a Boy Scout but once he becomes an adult, he must leave? …

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