Moderated by Tom Sabulis
The Boy Scouts of America said last week that it would delay until May a decision to reconsider its policy of barring openly gay people, a policy the U.S. Supreme Court upheld in 2000. Today, a Scouting activist endorses an end to the national ban. But a Christian leader argues that the moral absolute of Scouting has been put up for sale
Commenting is open following Jerry Luquire’s column.
By Gary B. Roberts
I am fortunate to work at an organization that values inclusion. I attend an Episcopal parish that is open and welcoming to all “sorts and conditions” of people. I am also an Eagle Scout and the father of an Eagle Scout. I’ve been a Cub Scout leader and an assistant scoutmaster at times in my life. I fully support the Boy Scouts of America.
For the past 10 years, I’ve been working with the Boy Scouts as the host for Merit Badge University at Kennesaw State University. This is an annual event where over 1,200 Scouts come to campus and participate in over 50 merit badge classes on a Saturday in October. Young men in khaki uniforms and merit badge sashes fill up our campus. Over 60 of my students volunteer to teach merit badge classes, serve as guides and even help park cars.
It’s a great event and very effective. Most boys leave having earned at least one merit badge, another step toward a Scout earning his Eagle award.
All of my students are required to have child protection training certificates from the BSA. We practice two-deep adult presence at all times. Safety of the Scouts is one of our primary concerns.
For the past three years, my graduate research assistant, Dennis, has been the primary project manager of this program. Starting almost a year before each event, Dennis has the primary responsibility for making things happen and coordinates between the university and the Boy Scouts. Without his attention to detail, the event would not be successful.
Here’s the irony. Dennis, who is 50 and working on his MBA, is a gay man in a committed long-term relationship. Currently, he is not allowed to hold any position with the Boy Scout organization. His work with Merit Badge University falls under the auspices of Kennesaw State University, where we make a good effort to protect our students from any form of homophobia.
Dennis volunteers his time working with an organization that would not allow him to be a member. Why? Because he sees the value of the program and is willing to “take one for the team” in order to make the world just a little bit better.
There are a lot of Dennises in the world. Many times, they receive no recognition and no reward.
I’m embarrassed for the Boy Scouts and their policy of excluding gay and lesbian adult leaders.
The proposed local option approach for Scouting puts the sexual orientation issue where it belongs. It is not, nor has it ever been, a core value of Scouting.
Every Scout leader I talk to about this clearly does not want to see Scouting divided into anti-gay troops or gay-friendly troops; they want to provide the best of Scouting to all boys and their families.
For some sponsoring organizations, sexual orientation may be fundamental. For most of us, it is not.
I just want Dennis to be accepted for who he is and for what he contributes.
Gary B. Roberts is professor of management and entrepreneurship at Kennesaw State University.
By Jerry Luquire
About five months ago, I filled this space with an observation that the Boy Scouts of America had the right to make a decision regarding standards of its membership and leadership.
At that time, I agreed that the organization had correctly decided, in our opinion, to continue its exclusive inclusion of heterosexual males.
Recently, the national leadership indicated it was reviewing its 103-year history of providing character development with exclusive heterosexual acceptance, and possibly find a way for homosexual members and leaders to be accepted. This follows intense bullying from homosexual groups in demanding that corporate giving to the Boy Scouts be “outed” and to refuse further support.
The opposition says the Scouts discriminate, which they do. That is, if you apply the positive meaning of discrimination as “to detect or draw distinctions,” as defined in Webster’s dictionary. It is also known as membership standards.
The Boy Scouts of America’s National Executive Board had predicted a review but, with an embarrassingly absurd excuse, the board said, “Due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs more time for a more deliberate review of its membership policy,” until May.
That the stand was even questioned destroyed the integrity of the position. The refusal of this group to walk the walk that they talk gives the enemy a right to say the board is not really sure of its position; that it is saying it may be wrong; that maybe homosexuals camping with heterosexuals and being taught character by those who have heretofore been unacceptable is now somehow not a threat.
To an uninvolved observer, tragically, the 103-year-old moral absolute by the Scouts has gone to the auction block. Money, not morality, rules.
Just for discussion, forget who sleeps with whom and how. Look at what is really at issue here: the distribution of tax-free corporate dollars earned by profit-making corporations, owned by stockholders. If there is excess cash, let’s put it to a taxable use that will not cause arguments. These dollars belong to the stockholders, who expect the corporation to return maximum profits. If corporate heads want to support a nonprofit, let them do so as we do, from their personal incomes — a tax loophole that can be closed.
It does not matter now what the board decides in May. There is no additional damage that can be done. They have told the homosexuals, “You just might be right, and we may be wrong.” Which is all they wanted.
Scout leaders violated the organization’s best-known position and motto. When faced with choosing money or morality, they were not prepared. Perhaps they need to understand the saying, “There is no right way to do a wrong thing.”
Jerry Luquire is president of the Georgia Christian Coalition based in Columbus.