I want to express profound gratitude for the decision of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to end the ban on gay youth. I had been praying for this for some time. The ban on gay youth in boy scouts was completely incongruent with church policy. How could an openly gay young man be worthy to bless the Sacrament and yet be unworthy to earn his Eagle Scout or even be denied participation in scouts all together by the national organization? I want to express gratitude to the church leadership for supporting the process of Boy Scouts becoming more inclusive. Without a doubt, this move towards equality, dignity, and decency could not have happened without support from the church since we sponsor 20-25% of all cub and boy scout units. To me this is one of the most significant and far reaching milestones for the church and the BSA with regards to LGBT issues.
The ban on gay leaders remains extremely problematic and as I said in my Washington Post op-ed, the ban on gay leaders continues to reinforce the most atrocious, false and damaging myths about our gay neighbors. I don’t even want to mention these atrocious myths. The fact is that my gay friends and neighbors are subjected to them all too often and their orientation is frequently juxtaposed with individuals who show criminal and malicious action towards children and animals. By linking orientation or gender identity to the criminality of others in the very same breath, anti-LGBT activists promote hate and attempt to marginalize our LGBT neighbors, family and friends. The ban on scout leaders who are gay supports these myths anti-LGBT activists use to instill fear. But they are failing. Fair, honest and good people are seeing through the fear.
The reality is that if an openly gay 18 year old can be ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood and serve a mission, as per policy, then they should be able to serve as a leader in scouts. But I am optimistic that the issue of leadership will be addressed and resolved with the decency found in today’s historic and momentous decision by the BSA. I will continue to pray and work hard for that day when the BSA will no longer support descrimination and destructive myths about our LGBT neighbors and loved ones.
This historic change in policy by the BSA also marks a highly significant turning point in the overarching national discussion of LGBT issues and religion. With the Church supporting this change, it takes a step in distancing itself from other conservative religious institutions who were and continue to be steadfastly against this decision. Many of those religious institutions and churches will follow through on their threats to discontinue their relationship with the BSA. As they pull their boys from scouting they will find themselves and their religious institutions becoming more and more outside of the mainstream and fall further and further into obscurity.
What was your reaction to the news? What does this mean for you, your family, the Church, BSA, and the United States of America?