In support of the current Boy Scouts of America membership policy that prohibits the admission of homosexual members, a group of scoutmasters, scouts and supporters rallied at the scouts Middle Tennessee Council Headquarters on Hillsboro Pike Friday afternoon.
This group, joined by more than 40 other groups nationwide, is opposing a proposal that would allow the admission of openly homosexual participants into BSA. The BSA Nation Council is set to vote on the proposal in Grapevine, Texas, next Thursday.
Eric Johnson, scoutmaster of troop 150 in Mt. Juliet, was one of those protesting the proposed change in BSA membership standards.
“In my opinion, the proposal is schizophrenic because it provides for open sexuality of any type at the youth level, but continues to prohibit and limit sexuality other than heterosexual relationships within the bonds of marriage at the leader level,” Johnson said. “As a result, I think it presents a legally untenable position.”
Johnson said that should the proposal pass, the BSA would be affected on multiple fronts.
“As many of the individual units are sponsored by religious organizations that also share our position from a moral standpoint, they may cease to charter local units,” Johnson said. “As a result there could be a pretty sizeable exodus in membership of both youth and adults.”
He added that losing members would put extreme financial pressure on a lot of the facilities that the scouts use. It would put a lot of pressure on councils that aren’t endowment funded or have substantial corporate support.
This makes Johnson believe that the overall quality of the program would diminish greatly in terms of the opportunities that it is able to offer.
“Fundamentally, we are a private organization as the Supreme Court affirmed our right to set standards for membership,” Johnson said. “If people don’t want to operate under those standards that have worked well for scouting for over 103 years they are welcome to go join another organization or form another organization, but changing this is not something that we are in support of.”
Organizations like Scouts for Equality, a BSA alumni association that is dedicated to ending the ban on gay members and leaders, are organizing events to gain support before the vote takes place.
The leaders and members of Scouts for Equality believe that a blanket ban hurts youth by forcing gay scouts to remain silent about who they are. The organization, which claims on its website to have 1.8 million signatures opposing the current ban, also say the ban stigmatizes children of same sex couples, whose parents are prevented from being a part of their children’s involvement in scouts.