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In Theory: Should Boy Scouts end ban on gays?

April 02, 2013

The Boy Scouts of America has sent its members a survey as part of its ongoing debate over whether to repeal or continue its ban on gay members. Instead of asking for a simple yes or no, the questionnaire goes into depth on several topics, for example sleeping arrangements and the place of faith in Scout groups' decisions.

It's this question of faith that is provoking the most comments about the survey. Scouts must take an oath "to do my duty to God" and many groups are sponsored by religious organizations. There are concerns that if the survey tends toward lifting the ban on gay members, there will be a split within the Scouts that could lead to an exodus of thousands of those who put their religious beliefs above their membership of the Scouts.

Writing in British newspaper The Guardian, American journalist Katherine Stewart says that the organization's biases lie "as much with its promotion of religious conviction as they do with its anti-gay sentiments," and that some of the questions reveal that "[there are] people who continue to see same-sex attractions as a moral failure and who are evidently entitled to use their religion as a cover for their bigotry."

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Boy Scouts of America's gay-exclusion policy has led to several ACLU lawsuits, with the argument being that the preferential treatment of Scouting groups by the federal government in terms of facilities and land usage is unconstitutional. Some service groups have ended their financial support for the Scouts because of the organization's perceived biases.

Q: Do you think Boy Scouts of America should end its ban on gay members, regardless of what it might mean for the organization's future?

Adults' utmost duty to youth is to protect them. This dovetails neatly with the Boy Scouts oath to "To help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight." A strong path toward keeping young people safe, and helping them remain mentally awake, is exposing them to a good education. Young people must learn to understand those who live around them.

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