Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

    Discrimination policy Boy Scouts of America review ban on gays

    Years of maturing into an adult can be a
    tumultuous time in any person’s life. Even more difficult can be doing so in a
    climate of religious upheaval and sexual discrimination. In one national
    organization, children and their parents face both of these controversial

    The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) have been
    mentoring boys and providing them with lifelong learning experiences since
    1910. The organization helps mold future leaders by providing educational
    activities and lifelong values, all in an enjoyable atmosphere. Notable Scouts
    include astronaut Neil Armstrong, former President Gerald Ford, Gov. Rick Perry
    and movie director Steven Spielberg.

    With over a century of experience, the
    organization believes that helping youth by teaching them life values creates a
    more responsible, productive and conscious society. According to the BSA
    website, the mission of the organization is to “prepare young people to make
    ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values
    of the Scout Oath and Scout Law.”

    However, since the organization’s creation,
    BSA has implemented policies that prohibit atheists, agnostics and homosexuals
    from becoming members. Organization leadership believes that by allowing these
    groups into BSA, the fundamental principles and tenets would be broken. BSA has
    denied membership to or has revoked existing membership of boys who display
    these traits.

    The organization strongly believes that these
    traditional policies are essential in its mission to teach young boys about the
    values of the Scout Oath and Law. Both state and federal courts have supported
    these policies.

    In the 2000 Supreme Court case Boy Scouts of
    America v. Dale, the Supreme Court found that, through freedom of association,
    the BSA is constitutionally allowed to reject any individuals it chooses. For
    the last decade, the BSA has banned the membership and leadership roles of gay
    individuals, but the organization has chosen to deny affiliation with
    homosexuals as early as 1980.

    In the California Supreme Court case Curran
    v. Mount Diablo Council of the Boy Scouts of America, Timothy Curran, a former
    Eagle Scout, was disqualified from the assistant scoutmaster position after he
    publicly stated that he was a homosexual and “publicly expressed his commitment
    to communicating to others his view as to the acceptability and morality of
    homosexuality.” The BSA stated that this ideology conflicted with its official
    position that homosexuality is immoral.

    Recently, however, the organization has been
    forced to rethink their policy towards gay scouts.

    In January 2013, Scout officials announced
    that the ban on gays in the group was being debated. Herndon Graddick,
    president of Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) an advocacy
    group for gay, lesbian and bisexual people, told the New York Times that
    “scouting is a valuable institution, and this change will only strengthen its
    core principles of fairness and respect.”

    “I do not agree that the BSA should have a
    ban in place for gay members and leaders,” said Stephen L. Schmidt, a senior
    prebusiness major and member of the GLBTQ community at UTSA. “The main reason,
    as I understand, for the ban is the scouting code of honor that includes the
    line “keep myself… morally straight.”

    Schmidt is referring to the last line in the
    Boy Scout Oath. The BSA outlines being morally straight as: “Maintaining honest
    and open relationships with others. Holding oneself to a high moral standard
    and being clean in speech and actions while being faithful to religious

    “In my opinion, a gay person can be perfectly
    morally straight and still be openly and actively gay,” said Schmidt.  He was a Boy Scout when he was younger.  Schmidt started out as a Cub Scout and
    continued to move up through the Boy Scouts until he quit when he started high
    school. “I am proud of what I did as a Scout and of the lessons I learned
    during my time.”

    The age at which individuals address
    sexuality varies; most studies suggest children begin to address their
    sexuality as early as 10 years old. Schmidt says that he never had issues being
    a Scout as a boy because he had not discovered his sexuality until after
    leaving the Scouts. “At the time I was in Scouting, I didn’t know what gay was.
    I didn’t feel different from the other scouts..”

    Many BSA leaders remain adamantly against gay
    scouts and believe that the values and policies 
    of the organization should remain the same.

    “If the board capitulates to the bullying of
    homosexual activists, the Boy Scouts’ legacy of producing great leaders will
    become yet another casualty of moral compromise,” said Tony Perkins, president
    of the Family Research Council, to the New York Times, “The Boy Scouts should
    stand firm.”

    While UTSA does not have an active Boy Scout
    organization on campus, one local fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, was founded on
    the basic principles common in the Boy Scouts. After returning from World War
    I, Alpha Phi Omega founder Frank Reed Horton, in an interview for the Alpha Phi
    Omega website, tells of his time in the Scouts.

    “I found that the Scout Oath and Scout Law
    were what I had been seeking– a standard of manhood that would withstand the
    test of time…” Horton subsequently went on to establish the Scout-based
    fraternity in 1925 at Lafayette College in Easton, Pa.

    However, one does not need to be a member of
    the Boy Scouts to join Alpha Phi Omega.

    “We were all founded on the Scout principles,
    and we follow the Scout Oath and Law,” said Victor Castano, sophomore
    management major and president of the UTSA chapter of Alpha Phi Omega.

    “It used to be required to be a Scout to be a
    member, but not anymore. We still adhere to all the values and guidelines, but
    we aren’t officially members of the Boy Scouts.”

    In an attempt to gain insight, BSA nationally
    surveyed members about the gay ban; only volunteers and parents were able to

    The opening statement of the survey claims
    that the organization does not allow members “who engage in behavior that would
    become a distraction to the mission of the BSA.”

    One survey question was hypothetical, asking,
    “Is it acceptable or unacceptable for a gay adult leader to take adolescent
    boys on an overnight camping trip?”

    Another survey question created a scenario of
    a religious Boy Scout whose troop, chartered by a church, believes that
    homosexuality is wrong. It then asked, “Steve, an openly gay youth, applies to
    be a member in the troop and is denied membership. Is it acceptable or
    unacceptable for this troop to deny Steve membership?”

    Parents filling out the survey could choose
    one of the following as a response: totally acceptable, somewhat acceptable,
    neither acceptable or unacceptable, somewhat acceptable or totally

    Reactions have varied according to the
    region. Some liberal-minded families believe that times are different now and
    that the world is more socially progressive. They mention how even the military
    has already lifted the ban on gay service members.

    Others strongly support the ban. In his blog
    on World Net Daily, former presidential candidate Rick Santorum claimed that
    allowing gay boys in the Boy Scouts would, “leave the Scouts hollowed out at
    its core.”