Last year, I wrote about how much I loved being a Girl Scout (you can read about that here). It was such an awesome experience and now that I’m an adult, I love being able to look at the organization and support it’s message still. Empowering girls, teaching tolerance, and delicious cookies.
After I wrote the article, I had a couple friends who were Boy Scouts saying the same things about their scouting days. For many of them, scouting was about empowering boys, teaching independence, and building friendships.
In fact, similar to my Girl Scout experience, sexuality was never discussed and exclusion was never an option. But for my Boy Scout friends, they can’t look at the organization as adults and be proud because the organization continues to support a shitty policy.
You see, in 2000, the Supreme Court upheld the Boy Scouts right to exclude members on the basis of sexual orientation in its Boy Scouts of America v. Dale decision . The court held that this right was found in the First Amendment, in the ability citizens have to engage in those rights that are protected under the First Amendment, like the right to associate
This freedom of expressive association also includes a freedom not to associate, as outlined in the Jaycees case in 1984. In the Jaycee’s case, the court outlines a whole bunch of requirements for protecting a group’s freedom to include/exclude persons but the main crux is that the group needs to engage in expressive association – basically, the group needs to have actual values that they’re furthering and control their membership based on those values.
In the Boy Scouts case, the court reaffirms this and lets the Boy Scouts choose to limit their membership to those who are furthering Boy Scout values. The Boy Scouts contended that, as a group, their official position was against homosexuality and that the purpose of the Boy Scouts was to “instill values in young people.” These values included the position against homosexuality. Accordingly, the court allowed the Boy Scouts to prohibit those who could not/would not further that position.
Recently, the Boy Scouts have come under fire for continuing to uphold this position. There have been multiple legal decisions furthering the rights of homosexuals, the mainstream media has embraced homosexuality as a sexuality and not as an aberration, and it seems like the Boy Scouts might soon be following suit.
On Monday, Deron Smith, a spokesperson for the Boy Scouts announced that after a two year investigation, the ban may be lifted noting that “[the decision] is a result of a longstanding dialogue within the scouting family. Last year, scouting realized the policy caused some volunteers and chartered organizations which oversee and deliver the program to act in conflict with their missions, principles, or religious beliefs.”
Sounds like progress to me.
What do you guys think of the Supreme Court’s decision to allow the Boy Scouts to discriminate? What do you think of the Boy Scout’s hopefully progressive decision?