The early verdicts are in and the Boy Scouts of America's proposed new membership policy pleases no one.
It's a "half-pitched tent," said one wag on the Scouts for Equality Facebook page. It's "a backhanded shove into the closet," opined another.
"This is no compromise; it is capitulation, plain and simple," said David Cortman, senior counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, which supports the BSA's current membership policy that bans "open or avowed homosexuals" from Scouting.
Even Scouts for Equality, which seeks to end the ban on gays, said it supports the proposed policy — but only as "a crucial step" toward full inclusion.
"Scouts for Equality will continue its efforts until discrimination is no longer a word associated with the BSA," said Zach Wahls, Eagle Scout and founder of the group.
On April 19, BSA executives released a draft membership policy, which will be considered in May at a national council meeting of 1,400 BSA leaders and delegates.
The draft policy maintains the BSA's long-standing ban on open homosexuals as adult leaders, volunteers and employees. But it says that membership would not be denied to a boy or youth "on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone."
The proposed policy also clarifies that BSA leaders don't ask people about their sexual orientation, that Scouting cannot be used for political or social agendas, and that sexual activity among youth — whether homosexual or heterosexual — is "contrary to the virtues of Scouting."
Some of those points are acceptable: "Keep Sex and Politics out of the Boy Scouts!" said the Moms for Boy Scouts Facebook page, led by a group of women whose families are involved in Scouting.
But a frequent criticism of the new policy is that it permits gay kids to become Scouts, but then — like Peter Pan — they can never grow up, since gay adults can't be part of Scouting.
That's "a disturbing message" to give to gay children, Lisa Beyer, member of the Bloomberg View editorial board, said in an opinion piece called, "Boy Scouts to Gays: Come In but Don't Grow Up."
It's a "ridiculous distinction," said Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council (FRC). "Either homosexuality is compatible with Scouting values or it isn't."
Meanwhile, in the four weeks left before the May 22-24 conference, activists are working to build support and momentum for their views.
Scouts for Equality held a social media day, using the influence of some 11,000 supporters, including 6,000 Eagle Scouts, Mr. Wahls said Tuesday. These Eagle Scouts and their allies can "show the BSA that Scouting is ready for this step forward."
The FRC, OnMyHonor.net, Moms of Boy Scouts and other allies are planning a simulcast May 5, called "Stand with Scouts Sunday." This 7:00 p.m. EDT webcast promises to show viewers how to support BSA "as its founders envisioned it ... without the invasion of cultural controversies."
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