Changing history, openly gay Boy Scouts of America are now allowed within the organization. There have been a number of advancements in regards to gay rights in the past couple of years. And with the start of 2014, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) continued this advancement.
In May 2013, the BSA National Council voted and passed the policy change allowing openly gay members, which took effect January 1, 2014.With policy changes aside, BSA is a youth development organization which provides programs that build character, and trains in the responsibilities of participating citizenship, and develops personal fitness.
“At first, I became a boy scout because I had a friend that had convinced me, but the more time I spent with the troop, the more I loved it. I stayed in the Scouts because I love working with my hands, camping, hiking, I enjoyed the responsibilities given to me, it gave me a sense of unconditional belonging and brotherhood,” said Steven Sims, sophomore Elizabeth Sims’ brother.
Sims hasn’t been in the Boy Scouts for two years, but he was a gay member of the Boy Scouts while it was not openly accepted.
Many gay members of the BSA considered their removal from the organization to be the worst case scenario. However for some cases there were troops that allowed openly gay members before the BSA National Council changed the policy.
“I knew I would have never been kept out or booted for my preference [sexual orientation], and maybe that was just my troop, but I knew many boys that were openly gay in the Scouts long before this decision,” said Sims.
However, since the policy change took effect, members of the Boy Scouts are allowed to publicly classify themselves as gay without fearing removal from the program.
This change makes it easier for boys to feel comfortable joining an organization where some members identify as gay.
Previous Boy Scout sophomore Glenn Rose said, “I don’t know anyone who was gay and wanted to be in Scouts but I do know plenty of gay people who were mad about being excluded, so I’m sure this will change the attitude of people towards the organization.”
Even though this decision will hopefully draw more people to joining Boy Scouts, the decision has also pushed people away.
Ever since the decision, the Boy Scouts has lost close to 6% of its members. Though it is not explicitly stated that the loss of membership is because of the policy change, the loss of members came at the same time of the change.
While members of the BSA are still grasping the new policy change, Girl Scouts of the USA already deny discrimination and don’t allow personal matters, like sexual orientation, to determine membership.
Girl Scout Rayven Davis said, “All types of people are accepted by the Girl Scouts regardless of their religious background, race or, to my knowledge, sexual orientation.”
The Girl Scouts seem to be in a better place when it comes to the acceptance of members compared to the BSA, because, even though the BSA policy change is considered a victory for gay rights, there are still some negatives.
“The Scouts still don’t allow gay scoutmasters because they’re worried about them being attracted to children. So the attitude toward the gay community hasn’t changed enough for me to be too happy about this but we’re getting there,” said Rose.
The policy change does not fix everything, but it is considered a good start for the BSA. Rose is appreciative of what the Boy Scouts did for him and hopes others can have great experiences as well. Rose said, “I’m glad to see the organization that gave me so much is opening its doors.”