Delegates from the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America will gather next week in Grapevine, Texas to vote on whether they will change their membership policy that has been against “open and avowed” homosexuality regarding youth members of the Boy Scouts.
Breitbart News reported in April that, with years of severe pressure from some legislators, Boy Scout officials would consider ending their ban on openly gay scouts, while they continue their long-standing policy on banning openly gay adult leaders.
Will the Boy Scouts of America admit openly gay boys to its membership? Cathy Ruse, a senior fellow for Legal Studies at the Family Research Council says, “Don’t count on it.”
In an article at Real Clear Religion, Ruse observes that, on Wednesday, the National Catholic Committee on Scouting (NCCS) released a statement about the anticipated vote that outlines important guidelines for Catholic delegates.
The first principle, Ruse notes, is that those inclined toward homosexuality must be treated with dignity and respect, based on the fundamental belief of the Church that every person is made in the image and likeness of God.
In addition, the NCCS statement asserts the Church’s teaching that homosexual acts are objectively and intrinsically disordered, and contrary to natural law. Consequently, homosexuality cannot be approved under any circumstances.
The NCCS statement affirms that “the Church reserves the right to seek to place those who live by its teachings in leadership positions that serve our youth, as well as the right to continue to call our young people to live by the teachings of our faith and by moral truth which can be known by all.”
Ruse asks, “Why speak of ‘leadership positions’ when the resolution addresses only youth membership?”
The reason is that the Boy Scouts often allow youth members to apply for leadership positions with significant authority over younger members in the troop. A change in the youth policy would allow open homosexuality on the part of older teens who enter leadership positions.
In addition, as Ruse observes, if the delegates approve a change in youth policy, the practical and legal outcome will be a change in policy for adult leaders as well.
What will happen to a gay Eagle Scout the moment he turns 18, and he suddenly becomes banned? Under the new policy, some action against the scout will be required, but few, if any, troop leaders would want to enforce the rule. Ruse asserts that “a de facto change in the rule for adults will occur almost immediately.”
Ruse goes on to say that the new policy would also forfeit the legal victory the Boy Scouts won at the Supreme Court over a decade ago. In America v. Dale, the Scouts were sued for unlawful discrimination because of its membership policy, but the High Court ruled that the policy is constitutional under the First Amendment’s protection of the rights to free speech and association.
However, a bifurcated, “incoherent new ‘speech,'” Ruse says, will leave no legal basis for the courts to uphold the prohibitory portion of the policy.
Ruse states that, in a recent survey conducted by Boy Scout officials, 72 percent of the chartering organizations oppose a change to the policy. That percentage, she concludes, corresponds almost exactly with that of chartering organizations that are faith-based, many of which are Catholic parishes.