I am an Eagle Scout and I know the ban on gay members is wrong

Image courtesy of the Washington Post

When a boy turns seven years old, he can officially join the Cub Scouts, an organization designed to prepare kids for the Boy Scouts. I was a part of the Cub Scouts until I turned 10 and crossed over into the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) where I would eventually enjoy the great outdoors and mature into a man with my compatriots.

The BSA’s National Council announced on Feb. 4 a vote to allow individual troops to make the decision on whether or not to allow gay members and adult leaders. This decision was deferred and will now be made sometime in May, but has already garnered much attention. Both advocates for gay rights and the opposing side have expressed their opinions on the matter. I support repealing the ban on having gay members and leaders in the Scouts.

I would hate to discredit the organization that has provided me with the training to perform CPR, fire a gun properly, build a fire from basically nothing and countless other important skills and experiences. However, if the BSA’s vote allows the ban to stay in place then the good they do for people will be overshadowed by their discriminatory rule.

Banning gay members is clearly a discriminatory policy. To forbid a gay man from volunteering or joining the Boy Scouts would be similar to prohibiting a black man from joining. There should not be a rule in place that infringes on the Constitution’s, and in turn, America’s, “all men are created equal” policy.

The highest rank that can be achieved as a Boy Scout is Eagle Scout, and Eagle Scouts just like me have expressed their frustration on the gay ban and would prefer it repealed. One such scout named Derek Nance has been camp director of Mataguay Scout Camp two years running and recently came out about his sexuality via a Youtube video. Nance is proud of his Eagle Scout rank and says that he will hold onto it, contrary to most gay scouts’ decisions to send their awards back to the National Council in protest. He wants to “once again wear [the] badge with honor.”

Another notable scout is Zach Wahls, co-founder of “Scouts for All,” a nonprofit organization that is known for its “committed to scouting, open to diversity” tagline. In a debate with President of the Southern Baptist Convention Richard Land, Wahls, the son of lesbian mothers, makes the perfect point when saying that the ban is “discrimination.”

Land shockingly rebuts by saying the Boy Scouts’ core values “[don’t] include homosexuality as a morally straight lifestyle.” This argument that being gay is not “morally straight” has been the cornerstone of the opposition’s stance. If one is not familiar with the Scout Oath, it specifically states that one will “keep [themselves] physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.” But how does being morally straight relate to being sexually straight?

Believing that not being sexually straight is also not morally correct is a false view. The assumption here is that homosexuals are people with malevolent values. Why would people associate immorality with the gay community? Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council, gives an offensive answer to this question. Perkins simply asks, “Why would I let a man who is attracted to other men go camping with my boys?”

Perkins assumes here that having gay leaders or members will lead to molestation and rape. I am surprised that the homosexual community is not more outraged. Perkins is in the wrong here. Being gay does not make someone a pedophile. Being attracted to other men does not directly mean being fond of little boys.

And what about gay women? Wahls mentions that his homosexual mother was a den mother for some time. No one is attributing gay women with pedophilia, only the homosexual men. Assuming that either are automatically child molesters is horribly insulting. There is a problem with the male and female leaders in general, not with gay men specifically. Gay members have always been banned and still there have been accounts of rape.

The reason that the ban has stayed in place for so long is because about 70 percent of all Scout units are sponsored by religious denominations. These endorsements can continue to be gratefully received, but the Boy Scouts should assert its independence and transition back to Founder Lord Baden-Powell’s belief that “we hold no brief for one form of belief over another.”

Powell was correct in saying this because the Boy Scouts is a proud and honorable organization that abides by a morally straight policy. Being morally straight means to be tolerant and to treat all men and boys with respect without holding “one form of belief over another.” I am not alone either because according to a Quinnipiac University Poll, 55 percent would vote to repeal the ban, compared to the 33 percent opposed.

The Boy Scouts of America is a morally straight organization and this means that they should be accepting of the gay community. Although the Boy Scout Oath says to keep oneself morally straight, it also requires members “to obey the scout law,” which reminds a scout to always be “helpful, friendly, courteous [and] kind.” The organization that once and continues to provide me with worthwhile and beneficial adventures and bonds needs to do the same to gay boys who are eager to have the same experiences. I am an Eagle Scout and proud member of the Boy Scouts of America and I choose to be helpful, friendly, courteous and kind to men of all races, creeds and sexual orientations.

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