For a while it seemed the court of public opinion might accomplish what the Supreme Court could not.
The momentum to change the policy seems to have started building at the local level. A California review board challenged the national organization by recommending that openly gay scout Ryan Andersen be awarded the top rank of Eagle. In true Eagle Scout form, Ryan Andersen did not give up when the national Eagle Review Board refused to approve his application for Eagle rank. He took his fight public, appearing on television with Ellen DeGeneres and Anderson Cooper (two gay people welcomed into millions of American homes every day, via television) and receiving 460,000 signatures on a Change.org petition. Anderson won, when the California-based Mount Diablo-Silverado Council defied the national organization and approved his Eagle status.
Closer to home, it was a different story.
You Don't Have to Be Straight To Be 'Morally Straight'
The Boy Scouts of America should drop its ban on openly gay members, American voters say 55 – 33 percent in a Quinnipiac University national poll released today.
There is a large gender gap as women support gay scouts 61 – 27 percent, compared to 49 – 39 percent among men, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds. White Catholics support gay scouts 63 – 25 percent. Among white Protestants, 44 percent say open up scouting and 41 percent say no. White evangelical Protestants oppose gay scouts 56 – 33 percent.
One troubling finding for Scouting in America is that 54 percent of voters say they were Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, while only 36 percent of voters, including 55 percent of former scouts, say they have children in Scouting.
In the time I was an active Boy Scout, I served as a Patrol Leader, Senior Patrol Leader, and (briefly, before going off to college) Junior Assistant Scoutmaster. I was out by then, to myself and to most of my classmates at school. But not to the Scouts (even though I'm sure most of the guys in my troop knew). I knew what the official response would be. Plus, my Dad was the assistant scoutmaster, whom I once heard say "A boy who doesn't want to be in scouting shouldn'tbe in scouting," only to forbid me to quit when I told him I wanted to. (The cognitive dissonance was starting to become suffocating.)
For what it's worth, I picked up some leadership experience during that time. It came in handy in college, when I was co-director of the LGBT student group, and when we successfully lobbied the University Council to pass a non-discrimination policy concerning sexual orientation for work and study at the university.
But the Boy Scouts and the National Eagle Scout Association probably don't want to hear about that. They don't want to hear, really, anything about the life I've manage to build for myself. (Which is a pretty damn good one, if I do say so myself.) I guess that's because according to them, I can't be queer and be "trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful , thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent." It screws with their framing. So, I couldn't be queer and be a scout.
(And because of their policy, it's unlikely either of our sons will be a Boy Scout, for obvious reasons.)
As the board of the Boy Scouts of America prepares to meet later this week to decide whether to drop its national banon gay leaders and scouts, Robertson wondered aloud if doing so would open the door to “predators” and “pedophiles.”
Speaking on the “700 Club,” Robertson said:
“The question is, are there predators as boy scouts, pedophiles that would come in as scoutmasters? And if they are, then of course parents wouldn’t want their sons being involved in the Boy Scouts, or their daughters in the Girl Scouts.”
“Our prayers are with them that they will do what they feel is right for them, not what the political [sic] correct crowd thinks is right for them,” he added.
Amid reports of widespread sexual abuse of children in the late 1980s, several leading youth organizations began conducting criminal background checks of volunteers and staff members.
Big Brothers Big Sisters ordered the checks for all volunteers starting in 1986. Boys and Girls Clubs of America recommended their use the same year.
One of the nation’s oldest and largest youth groups, however, was opposed -- the Boy Scouts of America.
Scouting officials argued that background checks would cost too much, scare away volunteers and provide a false sense of security. They successfully lobbied to kill state legislation that would have mandated FBI fingerprint screening.
While touting their efforts to protect children, the Scouts for years resisted one of the most basic tools for preventing abuse. The result: The organization let in hundreds of men with criminal histories of child molestation, many of whom went on to abuse more children, according to a Times analysis of the Scouts’ confidential abuse files.
... Scouting did not require criminal background checks for all volunteers until 2008 -- despite calls from parents and staff who said its vetting system didn’t work.
Again and again, decade after decade, an array of authorities -- police chiefs, prosecutors, pastors and local Boy Scout leaders among them -- quietly shielded scoutmasters and others accused of molesting children, a newly opened trove of confidential papers shows.
At the time, those authorities justified their actions as necessary to protect the good name and good works of Scouting, a pillar of 20th century America. But as detailed in 14,500 pages of secret “perversion files” released Thursday by order of the Oregon Supreme Court, their maneuvers allowed sexual predators to go free while victims suffered in silence.
The files are a window on a much larger collection of documents the Boy Scouts of America began collecting soon after their founding in 1910. The files, kept at Boy Scout headquarters in Texas, consist of memos from local and national Scout executives, handwritten letters from victims and their parents and newspaper clippings about legal cases. The files contain details about proven molesters, but also unsubstantiated allegations.
The allegations stretch across the country and to military bases overseas, from a small town in the Adirondacks to downtown Los Angeles.