One somewhat bright light for readers on an otherwise incredibly dark day: The Boy Scouts of America has called for an end to its unpopular ban on gay members, though sadly the paranoid policy of banning gay scout leaders will continue. The resolution states “no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone,” and will be put up to a vote by its council members on May 20th. The decision comes after a long period of research and polling of leaders and parents with questions such as asking if it’s okay for straight and gay scouts to share a tent.
The no doubt accidental timing of the decision will, if nothing else, probably reduce the amount of hate mail that the Boy Scouts get in response to this decision. Most of the people who would send irate emails and letters are too busy spinning and sharing Jack Bauer fantasies to worry too much about the threat to the republic presented by young gay men sporting a fly fishing merit badge.
Dan Savage took to Twitter to explain why this matters:
Regarding #BoyScouts ending gay ban: it’s not about openly gay adults wanting to join. It’s about not throwing out kids who’ve been Scouts.. — Dan Savage (@fakedansavage) April 19, 2013
…since age five and then realized they were gay at age 13 or 14. That kid shouldn’t be tossed out for being gay. — Dan Savage (@fakedansavage) April 19, 2013
In the past, being out in junior high or early high school was rare, but as the New York Times explained in 2009, that has changed dramatically in recent years, with kids “coming out” at such young ages that it’s debatable that they were ever “in.” It’s good that the Boy Scouts have decided not to force their gay members to decide between scouting and openly getting to share their own experiences of first crushes, first dates, and first kisses, just as their straight peers get to do. Now they just need to lift the ban on gay adults, and stop promoting the ugly and untrue stereotype that out gay adults present a threat to the safety of boys and teenagers.