(U-WIRE) EAST LANSING, Mich. – The Jewish Reform movement should be commended for calling its members to break ties with the Boy Scouts.
In a letter to Reform congregations earlier this month, the Joint Commission on Social Action said the Boy Scouts of America’s stance on gays is “incompatible with our consistent belief that every individual – regardless of his or her sexual orientation – is created in the image of God and is deserving of equal treatment.”
In June 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Boy Scouts, as a private organization, had the right to exclude gays from leadership. It also left the door open for exclusion from membership. This overturned a ruling by the New Jersey Supreme Court that disallowed the Scouts’ exclusion of a leader after a newspaper article revealed he is gay.
The Jewish Reform movement was right to take action. The message of discrimination and exclusion sent forth by the Boy Scouts’ policy is not something that should be allowed to persist. Other organizations should follow the example of the Reform movement, but an outright ban against the Scouts should not be encouraged.
However, the Reform movement and those who follow suit should be careful that their actions do not punish the boys involved with the Scouts. A statement should be made against the Scouts’ actions, but the boys who participate in scouting should not have to suffer the consequences of the organization’s policy by being kicked out of meeting space or made to feel excluded themselves.
While the government cannot and should not force the Boy Scouts to include gays, the organization’s choice to discriminate is wrong. In an attempt to provide good role models for boys, the Scouts have left out an important factor in that the boys now do not have positive gay role models. Gay role models could help to spread more understanding and acceptance in the organization.
The statement the Boy Scouts are making by upholding the ban is that gays are immoral and unclean. The Scouts are giving in to negative stereotypes about gays and helping to perpetuate them in future generations. This is not the message that should be relayed to the thousands of boys across the country who take part in scouting.
Parents need to decide if they want their children to be part of a group that cultivates negative stereotypes and endorses discrimination. There are other positive activities children can participate in that reflect a more accepting attitude.
The Boy Scouts should take a cue from their female counterparts. The Girl Scouts do not exclude lesbians from being leaders or members. They have progressed during the years into an accepting and diverse group that prepares girls for life in modern America.
The Boy Scouts have contradicted themselves and their moral standards by excluding instead of including. The Jewish Reform movement set an admirable precedent by speaking out against the Boy Scouts’ actions. The movement’s statement sends a message to the Scouts that their policy of discrimination is not right and should not be continued.
The State News (Michigan State U.)