BREAKING NEWS: The BSA and Deceptive Headlines

Headlines on the Web read something along the lines of “Boy Scouts of America End Ban on Homosexual Leaders”. While technically a true statement, reading the story tells a slightly different tale. Not of an organization embracing equal rights but rather a tale of an organization abdicating centralized control. What really happened was a blanket prohibition put into effect in 1978 was lifted. Instead of a blanket policy preventing discrimination to replace it, something else entirely was done.

According to Alan Yuhas at The Guardian, local units will now be able to select their own leaders according to their own standards, meaning church-run groups can “choose adult leaders whose beliefs are consistent with their own”. Given that approximately 70% of all charters go to religious organizations, this really won’t change the discriminatory practice at the charter level as some religious-based prejudice runs deep.

Faced with the growing threat of lawsuits at the national level and the growing change in laws favoring equal rights, the national organization of Boy Scouts of America didn’t so much embrace equal rights as they abdicated central control to avoid litigation by passing such decisions and the legal risk that goes with such decisions off to local leaders.

Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout and executive director of Scouts for Equality said, “It is not a victory but it certainly is progress. I think this is the most progressive resolution we could’ve expected from the Boy Scouts.”

What do you think? Progress on equal rights or litigation avoidance strategy? A little of both?

About Gene Howington

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6 Responses to BREAKING NEWS: The BSA and Deceptive Headlines

  1. michaelbeaton says:

    As an issue in its own context I think it is right, and even obvious. What I have yet to grok is how this issue fits in the general evolution of the nation/society/civilization. It seems there are 2 divergent paths happening…While the acceptance and et al, for gays at all levels is getting institutionalized: Supreme Court decisions, Gay marriage in the states… it was not too long ago that Rove was using the issue as a major, successful dividing point in the states and getting Bush elected as example of the success of the strategy.
    This along with the other path of the dismantling of civil rights, including the ongoing dismembering of the Bill of Rights (I’ll assume the posts in this blog site suffice as evidence and example enough for that point)… All of this in the context of the ever tightening power dynamic in our body politic as well as economic … Just acknowledging “Racial Injustice” is a whole other segment of this point…

    I suppose the point/question is this : It seems to me that the powers that made gay rights/issues such a battle ground couldn’t have really cared less. It was a function of power and distraction while the “real” issues of money/power (war/global wealth transfers) have been going on hidden in plain site.
    My question being, to this august body of thinkers : Does this thought/point have any point? Or is it a shallow point masquerading as insight?

    • A distraction in some ways perhaps, but a distraction with substantial effect for civil and human rights. Given the recent erosion in that area, a win I think outweighs the distraction value just so long as people are cognizant that other areas require attention.

  2. michaelbeaton says:

    Re above : I did not conclude properly….
    While the issue of gay rights is deeply important and especially meaningful to those who are and have been so negatively affected by the xenophobia of the society (and societies throughout history) it seem to me that the cheering and the happiness at achieving this certainly significant milestone is muted when considering that it does not seem to be an indicator of any real progress in the deep moorings of our society/nation.
    It feels more like tactical retreat, a new battle line will be established far from the center of the real issues, and the citizenry will be engaged in that battle w renewed full throated energy and zeal, Maybe the infinite parsing of HRClinton or pondering the meaning of Trump, or ignoring anything deeper than the latest poll that tells us who is up or down… infinite energy being expended on analyzing whoever occupies the limelight, while the real work goes on….hardly without a peep…

    (of course there is a peep… just not loud enough to be heard over the serious cacophony of the primary information outlets..)

    I spill my own answer to my question above…Still I wonder if I am missing something essential.

  3. randyjet says:

    It is a good decision for all. It should be left up to the locals, especially since the issue is such a contested one in religious terms. If a gay person wishes to be a scout leader there will still be plenty of gay friendly organizations who will take them. Or gays can set up their own organization that will take sponsorship. Win/win for all.

  4. michaelbeaton says:

    Final thought: A systems principle comes to mind that may encapsulate the point as well as the question : Necessary but not sufficient…

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