This has been a big week for the Boy Scouts of America. The organization’s national board met in Irving, Texas, for a three-day conference beginning on Monday, February 4th, and they discussed lifting the ban prohibiting queer leaders and scouts. This proposal is truly groundbreaking, since the organization has kept an unchanged ruling on the issue for over one hundred years.
Support for the removal of this ban is overwhelming. Although only the national board is voting on the issue, more and more people are speaking out, hoping to make an influence on the decision. On Monday, Supporters of lifting the ban dropped off boxes outside the doors of the conference containing 1.4 million signatures for social justice. On Super Bowl Sunday, President Obama said in a pre-game interview that he is also in favor of removing the ban, because the queer community “should have access and opportunity, the same way everybody else does in every institution and walk of life."
The national board of the Boy Scouts of America has postponed the vote on Wednesday until this May. This is most likely because of conflict between the groups that have been supporting the scouts for decades. In a CNN interview, Richard Land from the Southern Baptist Convention argued that letting gay men be troop leaders will put the boys at risk; the newscasters interrupted him on- air, correcting that gay men are no more likely to be pedophiles than heterosexual men. Meanwhile, corporations that sponsor Boy Scouts of America have been putting augmenting pressure on the organization to accept scouts and leaders of all orientations and identities. Funding could potentially be cut from over a dozen sponsors, such as J.P. Morgan, UPS, IBM, Levi Strauss & Co., CVS, American Airlines, Carrier and HP.
The question here is: how will the Boy Scouts of America react to the current demands for social justice? The sponsoring corporations are putting pressure on the group to lift the ban because they see a generational social movement that is gaining more and more momentum. If populations continue to call organizations out on discrimination as they see it, such as the 1.4 million activists and their signatures, there will be no limit to the possible positive change. Take a look at the New York Times article, if you feel inclined, and remember this: if the Boy Scouts can have this landmark conversation after over one hundred years of untouched tradition, than you can defy any small injustice you may come across, today. Thanks for reading!