Thursday, September 11, 2014

Analysis of the Scouts for Equality Strategy Briefing

Scouts for Equality (SFE) is "an American advocacy organization that advocates for equal treatment within the Boy Scouts of America's for all scouts and scout leaders, regardless of sexual orientation." It recently published a strategy briefing to see what the thrust of SFE would be going forward. It merits a longer post, but in brief here is my rather hard-nosed analysis:
  1. Praise of BSA
  2. Credit taking for the outcome of the 2013 vote and the new membership policy
  3. Little discussion of the problems of the new policy for youth
  4. Encouragement of continued participation in BSA
  5. No option for those who cannot or will not participate in BSA
  6. No participation/visibility of LGBT adults
  7. Praise for Robert M. Gates
  8. Charitable mind-reading of Gates' actual intentions and plans
  9. etc.
Significant as well is what was not discussed:
  1. duplicity of BSA regarding age of adult membership, and Gates' participation in that decision
  2. analysis of how these plans accelerate change above do-nothing baseline
  3. helping "grow" the program during epoch of discrimination--doesn't that rather discourage change?
  4. the steps individuals and units can/should take now
  5. addressing the actual needs of LGBT youth and adults in BSA now
  6. etc.
Perhaps the plans to rate individual councils on their actual support of full equality and preparedness to meet the actual needs of LGBT members will be useful, though it is hard to say until those plans are circulated. Why rating Councils rather than Units makes sense is not discussed. Note the prior advice for LGBT scout/scouters thinking of coming out was rather limited, broke no new ground, and provided nothing that wasn't already available from other venues.

Basically, I see little daylight between the official BSA position and SFE, in that both seek to grow the program (BSA) without bringing irresistible pressure for change to any layer of the program. There is a fantasy discussion about how the policy will change by virtue of a top-down effort driven by people who are on record to do nothing for the next two years, and with every reason to believe their intentions are to continue to do nothing after that, unless compelled to do differently by force majeure.

SFE appears to believe that because its board is made up of Eagle Scouts therefore it has leverage with the BSA organization. But there is no recognition that current BSA members (of which few if any SFE board members are), whether volunteer or professional, are hierarchically focused--they look up their chain of command and don't look to former members, no matter what rank those former members achieved.

Without a change in strategies and tactics I suspect that BSA will continue to ignore the efforts of SFE. But imagine BSA were to encourage the efforts of SFE--what happens then? Essentially it allows BSA to return to growth, to continue to confuse the nation that BSA is actually supportive of diversity and inclusion, without making any real or meaningful change.

I may have missed an important point or two--what was your read, what do you think is useful or not useful in the presentation, and what is needed to make real our aspiration for fully inclusive scouting today?