Not brave, nor kind

The following editorial appeared recently in the Washington Post.

The bottom line is this: Last week the Boy Scouts of America - one of the nation's most prominent youth organizations - essentially told the young people it seeks to empower that some of them are unequal, merely because of the way they were born.

For the past two years, the Scouts had been re-evaluating their infamous exclusion policy, which denies "membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA."

In 2000 the Supreme Court upheld that policy, ruling that the First Amendment's freedom of association allows private organizations to exclude whomever they choose. Numerous protest campaigns ensued in the following years. Those prompted the Boy Scouts to reconsider but, ultimately, not to do the right thing. On Tuesday, an 11-member special review committee reached a unanimous decision: Homosexuals "open or avowed" are still unwelcome in the Boy Scouts.

The decision may have been within the organization's legal rights, but it represents a sad embrace of intolerance that does not belong in a program that purports to "prepare young people to make ethical moral choices." The reaffirmation can only worsen a climate in which lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youths are often bullied and otherwise made to feel unwelcome - in extreme cases, driven to attempt suicide.

In an apparent attempt to pretend at a tolerance it failed to embrace, the organization said that it "welcomes all who share its beliefs but does not criticize or condemn those who wish to follow a different path." Not only does this statement suggest - inadvertently or not - the antiquated notion of homosexuality as a "different path" one may "wish" to follow, it's also patently untrue. Reaffirming a ban on "open or avowed" homosexuals is nothing if not an incitement to "criticize" and "condemn."

The prejudice seems inimical to three of the qualities that Boy Scout Law promotes: kindness, friendship and bravery. It also calls into question the organization's oft-cited motto, "Be Prepared." Prepared for what kind of world?

The editorial board is composed of the publisher and four journalists of varied editing and reporting backgrounds. The board's discussions and information gained from its meetings with political, civic, and business leaders drive the institutional voice of The Day, as expressed in its editorials. The editorial department operates separately from the newsroom.


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