To Keep Myself Physically Strong, Mentally Awake and Morally Straight
The words that comprise the motto of the Boy Scouts of America are words I revered as a teenager. I was a member of Troop 379 and treasure my memories of being part of that institution. But an ugly blemish remains on the BSA which I and others are determined to see removed.
Earlier this week, ousted scout leader Jennifer Tyrrell announced she would be delivering over 300,000 signatures today to the Boy Scouts of America headquarters in Dallas. In a cynical move to preempt that story, the Scouts released a statement yesterday reaffirming its ban on gay scouts and LGBT leaders. The statement indicated that their committee met in secret and unanimously voted to uphold the ban.
Hogwash. My sources, including ones close to the leadership at the BSA, inform me that this “vote” actually took place in 2010 and that the “announcement” is merely recycled news. Jennifer will be delivering the signatures in Dallas as planned, and the move by the BSA has not only not stopped press interest but increased it. Just this week, another LGBT individual–an Eagle Scout from Missouri, Eric Jones–was ousted as a counselor at a Boy Scout summer camp simply because he is gay. These policies by the BSA reinforce that gay people are unfit to be part of this national organization because of who they are. They perpetuate the irresponsible and unsupportable stereotype that gay people prey upon children. And they must be met with staunch resistance until they fall.
Many well-meaning people counter that the BSA is a private organization, and as such should be able to keep whomever they want out. This is of course the same justification used to prevent minorities from eating in restaurants during the Jim Crow years. And where an organization as revered and national in scope as the Scouts maintains and defends such a policy, it sends the wrong message to our youth, many of whom already are struggling with their own sexual identity–an identity which has nothing whatsoever to do with their “morality,” but everything to do with their self-esteem and happiness. Thus, while the BSA may have the “legal” right to continue to discriminate–a question I believe should be revisited–I and others have the same “legal” right to protest the policy, till our last breaths if necessary, as blatantly discriminatory and against everything that equality in America stands for.
So the fight is not over. Indeed, I, along with Jennifer, Eric and the folks at GLAAD (The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) will not stop fighting until the ban is overturned, if not in court, then in the court of public opinion. Progress is not measured in days or months or even years, but in the slow and inevitable turn towards equality for all people irrespective of inherent differences which frankly in this day and age, SHOULD. NOT. MATTER.
– George Takei