Yesterday, the voting body of the Boy Scouts of America ended the century-old ban on openly gay scouts participating in the organization. However, the organization still has a long road ahead before they can award themselves a merit badge for equality. The Boy Scouts maintain a strict policy on not allowing openly gay adult leaders to serve in the organization’s ranks. According to the Washington Post, 60 percent of the organization’s 1,400 voting members approved what was deemed a “compromise.”
While at face value this may seem like a victory for LGBT individuals, allies and advocates, this split policy is a not-too-clever public relations maneuver from an organization out of touch with the conscientiousness of the majority of Americans. By not allowing gay adults to participate in the Boy Scouts, the organization is still reinforcing the message that LGBT individuals should be barred from certain sectors of society. Young, gay scouts will spend their formative years building a relationship with their scouting peers and the organization, only to be rejected by the same group when they reach adulthood. This hypocritical practice is not only damaging to individual scouts, but to an entire movement that is working to send a message of acceptance to LGBT youth.
The LGBT community has made huge gains in recent history. President Obama’s endorsement of marriage equality, the repeal of the Armed Forces’ “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, and the current 12 states and the District of Columbia that allow marriage equality are all examples of a shift in the American conscious toward equality.
This “compromise” presented by the Boy Scouts should serve as a reminder to allies and advocates that LGBT discrimination is still very much alive and well. Until LGBT inclusiveness and equality are a part of ALL facets of American society, organizations like the Boy Scouts will continue use smoke and mirrors to institutionalize discriminatory practices and mask it as “progress.”