Scout discrimination

It’s a glorious time for the Greenwich Council of Boy Scouts. Earlier this month it marked the 100th anniversary of the signing of its original charter, and there are more major celebrations planned for this year.

But even as we mark the council’s long tradition in this town and the extremely positive impact the Scouts have had here, there is an issue that cannot be ignored. Last week the Boy Scouts of America decided after two years of deliberation that barring open gays from serving as scoutmasters or even as Scouts themselves is a fine policy. Our nation’s military has said that “Don’t ask, don’t tell” is impractical and immoral, but the Scouts believe they can just keep on going with it, a move that’s no doubt a comfort to extreme religious and right wing bigots but is a slap in the face to anyone who is gay and wants to be a part of the Boy Scouts.

This is not a criticism of the Greenwich Council or the aims of Scouting itself. This was a national decision. But the time has come to not just accept that and allow discrimination to continue. We are calling on Greenwich Scout leaders and the Scouts themselves to speak the truth and say that discrimination is wrong. Already many groups with Eagle Scouts have spoken out, and we want to see Greenwich take the same step.

There is no valid reason whatsoever to bar gays from the Boy Scouts. The Boys and Girls Clubs throughout the country do not have this policy in place. Neither do the Big Brothers and Big Sisters programs. And, it is especially worth noting, the Girl Scouts do not either. They allow gays and lesbians to participate without forcing them back into the closet. The truth is the only shame that should be felt here is by the leadership of the Boy Scouts of America that allows this policy to continue and teaches our youth that discrimination is OK.

As far as we have come on the issue of equal rights for gays and lesbians in this country we are reminded that we still have a lot of distance left to travel. This week trailblazing astronaut Sally Ride, the first woman to be in space, died and it was revealed that she was survived by a female partner of 27 years. Now, it was never anyone’s business but Ms. Ride’s what her sexual orientation was and if she chose to be private about being a lesbian she had every right to be. But we must remember that under current law Ms. Ride’s partner does not enjoy the same rights to benefits that a husband or a longtime boyfriend would even though they were together for nearly 30 years.

Yes, the Defense of Marriage Act is still the law of the land, a law that treats gay and lesbian partnerships as if they were not equal to heterosexual relationships. No, gays across this country still do not have the same rights to get married as heterosexual couples do. And, yes, people are still pouring money and effort into making sure these equal rights are not achieved.

None of this is anything Greenwich itself can change, but we can make a stand here. If our Boy Scout council says that it’s wrong to treat gays and lesbians as lesser people, then that teaches our youth about fighting for what is right, and that when people are being bullied and discriminated against they need to stand up.

This isn’t just about Scout masters either. It’s about gay youth that want to be Scouts being told they are lesser and different. The impact of that can be awful and it mus t stop/

Scouting is supposed to represent the very highest in character and model the very best in behavior. Think about what this discrimination does to our kids and think about what a shining example it will be to end it.

If enough councils do this, then the Boy Scouts of America will find its hand forced — and we think it should start here in Greenwich.

By participating in the comments section of this site you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and User Agreement

© Hersam Acorn. All rights reserved. The Greenwich Post, 10 Corbin Drive, Floor 3, Darien, CT 06820

Designed by WPSHOWER

Powered by WordPress