Dear Tell All: I read with interest "No Honor for Boy Scouts" (2/21/2013). Den Brother argued that the Boy Scouts of America should simply stop discriminating against gays, and that the National Headquarters is wrong to wring its hands over "the complexity of this issue."
Looking at the Boy Scouts' formal policy of not allowing gay members, I agree that perhaps holding onto the mores of the 1940s and '50s is rather shortsighted and just plain wrong. But the change offered by the National Headquarters - essentially "don't ask, don't tell" - speaks more to fulfilling its mission to the greatest number of boys rather than to the exclusion of any.
Take, for instance, the comment of the Madison Catholic Diocese: "the Boy Scouts' present policy does not amount to unjust discrimination." If the BSA formally retracted its policy regarding gay members, what would happen to all the various scouting units that are currently hosted by Catholic churches and other entities that do not accept gays? What of all the monetary donations now freely given by Catholics? Then factor in another of BSA's largest supporters in terms of units sponsored and monetary donations: the Mormon Church. They too have dogmatic views of gays.
All I am trying to convey is that this issue, of allowing gay Scouts or not, is really not as cut-and-dried as it may seem. In many ways, the Boy Scouts of America is looking at its short-term survival and its long-term relevancy. Personally, I would welcome gays into the program. But in doing so, I realize that a backlash by institutional supporters might be overwhelming and put at risk the effective continuation or minimize the importance of Scouting's mission.
Dear Scout: It's hard for me to sympathize with the argument that some form of discrimination is necessary to keep the Scouts alive. I understand that proponents like yourself want to preserve an institution that does a lot of good for a lot of boys. But I question whether it's worth preserving unless it can do a lot of good for every boy, with no requirement for secrets and silence.
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