By ZOLA ROSS-GRAY, age 11
The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) was formed more than 100 years ago as a Christian organization, but the official ban on gay leaders and scouts has only existed since 1991. Their official policy states: “While the BSA does not proactively inquire about the sexual orientation of employees, volunteers or members, we do not grant 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”
Zach Wahls, a 21-year-old Ohio State University student, became famous through a YouTube video of his testimony in Iowa against outlawing civil unions*, in which he defended his two mothers. He then formed Scouts for Equality, a group that supports lifting the BSA ban.
Wahls believes the ban will be lifted because so many BSA members have been outspoken in describing the damage that has been done by discrimination. According to Wahls, “We owe an enormous debt to the advocates and families who put their futures on the line to stand up to the Boy Scout leadership and say, ‘This is wrong.’”
In response to public pressure, on April 19, the BSA proposed to lift the ban on scout members but not leaders. This proposal will now be put to the vote in May, despite the criticism it has drawn from both sides of the issue. Supporters of the ban claim that the BSA is violating their traditional values, while opponents believe that the proposal does not go far enough.
If the BSA representatives vote to remove the ban altogether, they would gain many supporters, but they could lose the backing of many conservative Christian parents and families. If the vote gets rid of the ban, then the BSA will have taken a stand against discrimination.
*Civil Union: a legally recognized union of a couple, same-sex or otherwise, that gives the couple some of the rights of marriage, but not all.