It seems as though the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is considering a change of its policy on whether or not to allow homosexuals to join the ranks of Scouting and whether to allow leaders who are gay.
As a national organization, they’ve said that they are considering an option to not enforce the ban on gay members, and instead leave that decision up to the local groups and chartered organizations.
Frankly I’m shocked by the decision, not because it will allow gay men and women to lead – or boys who are openly homosexual to remain members – but because having an organization allow itself to be organized from the ground up is an organization destined to fail.
I’ve got nothing against those who are gay. Being gay does not determine a person’s ability to be a good human, or a good leader. In fact, it changes nothing about them as an individual.
Whether it is a choice, or they are born gay; whether it is a sin, or not: both are arguments for a different place and this column is about the BSA, not homosexuality.
The Boys Scouts have been around since 1910 when Robert Baden-Powell founded the organization, and has always been strictly governed.
Girls, atheists, criminals and, since 1978, homosexuals were banned from participation. Good or bad, right or wrong, it’s legal.
The BSA is a private organization and the U.S. Supreme Court, in 2000, upheld its right to set guidelines determining membership. But letting the individual groups determine what policies will be enforced is tantamount to suicide.
It would be like the Yankees letting their farm teams determine who to send up to the big leagues.
It would be like Microsoft allowing the janitors to determine when the next iPhone should be released.
It would be like allowing my 2-year-old to choose his own bedtime.
It would be chaos.
For me this isn’t about the decision to allow gay members, it’s about an organization setting itself up to fail by allowing itself to be ruled from its base.
The BSA allowing its chartered groups to choose whether they will enforce a policy against gays and lesbians in membership and leadership could cause rifts between groups that exist in the same town, and could potentially cause problems in cities that are limited to just one Scout organization.
In Brookings there are two troops. If these troops were to adopt differing policies it could prevent them from working together to achieve the ultimate goal of the BSA – making boys into men.
In towns where there is only one troop, it could lead to youth not participating at all, either because they weren’t allowed on one hand or because they chose not to on the other.
Allowing the ground level organizations to determine what policies they will enforce is like having crackers and cheese.
The base of the organization will flake away like a crusty Saltine cracker, gradually leaving the cheese all alone with nothing to carry it to the mouth and nothing to balance its greasy goodness.
Cheese is good by itself; crackers are good by themselves but when they are put together it’s like a Gustav Mahler symphony. The national organization by itself would still have a mission statement and strive to realize corporate goals, and the individual groups would do the same but, without the pairing that makes them work so well, it just wouldn’t be the same.
The decision hasn’t been finalized yet, but the fact that the BSA has even admitted it is considering the option indicates that it is probably a done deal.