The Boy Scouts of America voted today on whether or not gay kids should be permitted to join in the tradition of making things out of sticks, earning badges for bugle playing, and selling popcorn. Over 61 percent of 1,400 delegates across the U.S. voted to lift the ban – 757 votes for yes and 475 votes for no.
The vote may have been inspired by not only the recent backlash against the organization for their religious intolerance and homophobia, but another issue which has still been left unaddressed, for the most part. This issue being the “Perversion Files” from the 1980s to 2011, which contain allegations of sexual assault and abuse by pedophiles (who were never charged) that the BSA may have been aware were holding positions in the organization and never really did anything about. These files were ordered to be released to attorneys on May 2, 2013, in a lawsuit alleging sexual abuse of a 12 year old boy by a scout leader. And yet, the BSA still did not want to release the files, claiming that release would keep other victims from coming forward.
The “perversion files” and the pending lawsuits against the BSA make the ban on gay leaders (which is still in effect), even more interesting. After the vote, Tico Perez, BSA national commissioner stated that “"This resolution today dealt with youth. We have not changed our adult membership standards. They have served us well for the last 100 years. Those were not on the table.” It is unclear what kind of standards the BSA has, if holding onto files alleging sexual abuse in order to protect themselves, is considered as serving them well.
However, keeping the ban on gay leaders is more than just nonsensical, and leaves another question which seems to have been left out of the debate. What exactly happens to a gay kid who works 10 years to reach Eagle Scout, and then is denied the opportunity to become a leader?
Nevertheless, the ban on gay scouts will become effective on January 1, 2014. Apparently, the Boy Scouts of America need time to implement the new policy to over 116,000 units. With most of the sponsorship coming from religious groups, lifting the ban is a huge step. For those who believe that any family regardless of sexual orientation, should be allowed to take part in the Boy Scouts of America, it is likely not a big enough step. Either way, we should probably consider the blatant hypocrisy involved in hiding the real sexual issues in the organization and whether or not allowing gay Boy Scouts into the organization, is just another way to save their bottom line.