Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Boy Scouts of America's New Policy of Discrimination

Yesterday the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) announced a draft of its new discrimination policy, expected to be adopted July 27, 2015 at the national board meeting. These documents were published outlining the details:
What is so curious about this announcement is that it outlines a continuing policy of discrimination at a time when most organizations are struggling to do the opposite. Most everyone else is trying to actively end discrimination in all it's forms, but with this policy discrimination against LGBT individuals may continue in the up-to 70% of units that are sponsored ("chartered") by religious institutions, and invidious discrimination against girls/women and the godless on the part of the Boy Scouts of America will continue. The activism and pressure that was required to end the active discrimination against LGBT youth and adults in membership and employment continues to be required to bring about change. The BSA admits (see links above) the changes currently in play is primarily due to actual or threatened litigation, as well as BSA (perhaps unintentionally) having abandoning the expressive claims made in the BSA v. Dale Decision.

The BSA's continued practice of discrimination against LGBT in volunteering and membership in their religiously sponsored scouting units continues to prevent them from re-entering their formerly privileged positions in communities and educational settings throughout the nation. The changes announced yesterday and expected at month's end are limited to ending an active policy of discrimination against "avowed homosexuals," while simultaneously permitting it to continue with its religious partners. Local Councils will continue to attempt to adopt non-discrimination policies that National BSA in the documents published yesterday insist are null and void.

BSA's proposed policy changes continue to abandon youth and families in religiously discriminating units, leaving them at risk. The public will see this and continue to object to it. Those religious organizations that do not change will be increasingly marginalized by the rest of society.

BSA has bought a little goodwill with the changes announced today, but that goodwill will erode over time if BSA cannot figure out how to welcome those members it is currently deciding to not actively mistreat and neglect, and if it fails to extend scouting to those it still actively excludes.

As with the changes in membership policy January 1 2014, the changes now proposed by the BSA is not predicated on the needs of families and children. Not one word in the materials prepared for communication with the public, nor with units, charter organizations nor councils speaks to the special vulnerabilities of LGBT youth and the risks they face at the hands of those in whose care they are entrusted. Not one word addresses the needs of families with LGBT members or participants. The BSA is making this change with the narrowest of focus: "that the National Executive Board will act in the best interest of our organization."

Holding the "rights of religious chartered organizations" to continue invidious discrimination without simultaneously discussing and safe-guarding the needs, indeed the rights, of children and families to equal dignity and protection, participation and expression goes beyond neglect. It is reckless endangerment.

Subjecting children and families to what amounts to a ZIP code lottery is simply immoral.

Let's be clear. With this change BSA adopts a new policy of discrimination at a time when what is needed is a policy of NON-discrimination. National BSA threatens all Councils throughout the nation that if they adopt non-discrimination policies the prohibit any chartering organization the prerogative to mistreat, neglect, abandon, discipline or discharge any who are or are thought to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, then "The National Council will take action on a council that violates this provision." (-source: Adult Leadership Standards and Resources Update June 2015, Question 18).

What kind of respectable child and youth serving organization does that?