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Boy Scouts is About Equality

The Boy Scouts of America is a 103-year-old organization consisting of scouts of different faiths, politics, wealth, and background. When news of a potential membership policy change leaked, I hoped this would usher in a new era for the Boy Scouts, setting an example of unity and equality by making it more encompassing and welcoming.

Unfortunately, the National Executive Board balked at the opportunity, delaying the fate of their discriminating membership policy until May, when volunteers from all over the country, including four or five locally, will vote. This inaction shows a lack of leadership and awareness of the growing movement of equality within the organization. The world is ever evolving and their staunch refusal to accept all youth and adults continues to create controversy and scrutiny.

Some say that focusing on this issue is a distraction. A distraction from the main purpose of scouting, creating high character, responsible, personally fit citizens. I disagree. Allowing gay young men into scouts and affording them the same opportunities as straight young men is the opposite of a distraction, but a continuation of the scouting mission. Gay young men, so frequently facing isolation in schools and in their family, need more outlets to build community, not fewer. As a volunteer, I am not volunteering to help certain scouts, but all scouts, regardless of sexual orientation. How can I, in good faith, talk about morals and values when the organization is so blatantly practicing discrimination?

Scouting, although rooted in reverence, has never been affiliated with any one denomination or sect. Troops chartered with Unitarian organizations are not required to apply Catholic, Mormon, or Baptist beliefs, especially their definition of “morally straight.” Conversely, a Catholic chartered troop should not have to apply others beliefs. However, we are all equal and discrimination is wrong. Morality exists independently of any denomination. Equality for all is in the best interest of scouting. The current policy is not in the best interest of all scouts explicitly disregarding gay scouts.

For the benefit of scouting, I, as an Eagle Scout, hope that in May, the BSA takes that massive step towards equality and finally puts the best interest of all their kids in the crosshairs. Then they would truly be accomplishing great things for youth.

- Matt Wilcott, Tonawanda

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