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The Boy Scouts’ Anti-Gay Policy Is a Public Health Problem

2012 August 19

By JAMES HAMBLIN,the Atlantic – Eagle Scouts Publicly Reject Gay-Discriminatory Policy

Young men can join the Boy Scouts of America at age 10.5 and remain Scouts until age 18. During that time, 2 percent achieve the highest rank, Eagle Scout.

Eagle is an award carried for life. My grandfather still wears a small Eagle Scout pin on his fishing hat. He wears three, actually. The first is for him (which he earned in 1934), the second is my father (1967), and I’m the third (1999).

Last month, after “a nearly two-year examination,” the Boy Scouts of America decided to stand by its membership policy that excludes openly gay Scouts and adult leaders. From their official statement:

Scouting believes that good people can personally disagree on this topic and still work together to achieve the life-changing benefits to youth through Scouting. …BSA leadership agrees this is the best policy for the organization and supports it for the BSA.
Since the announcement, widespread disapproval of the BSA has been heartening and necessary, but also tragic.

Boy Scouts is an organization that was and is so close to being great. Remember when they had to put Old Yeller down because he got rabies? It’s not like he was a bad dog, but he got a brain infection and he tried to eat Travis.

The policy is embarrassing and archaic, sure. And it’s in opposition to the core tenets of scouting, yes. But the real value in speaking against it is that it’s dangerous. When a group as massive (2.7 million youth members) and respected as the Boy Scouts makes a move like this, it stands to exacerbate a public health hazard in such a way that we can’t just agree to disagree.

Perpetuating a culture where gay teenagers — who are already commonly battling notions of inferiority and self-hatred — can be openly and decidedly told they aren’t welcome among a preeminent organization that purports to represent and define a standard of behavioral ideals, is dangerous. It’s a decided step back in rejecting the culture of gay bullying. We will see more depression, and more suicide. We’ll see more discrimination of every sort, and more hatred. Read more…

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