By Nick Servi, The Circuit.
The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) introduced a policy change in 2013 that allows openly gay boys to become scouts and, announced on Jan. 30, girls who identify themselves as boys.
The BSA also lifted its national ban on openly gay scout leaders on July 27, 2015.
These three policy changes come almost seventeen years after the U.S. Supreme Court case Boy Scouts of America v. Dale on June 28, 2000.
These policies only apply to public scout troops so far. Troops formed and sponsored by religious institutions such as the Catholic Church are not required to follow them.
Junior Luke Ryder, who spent two years scouting, says it is good that the Boy Scouts as a national organization wants to welcome everyone into their group as the BSA has great values.
“You learn more about who you are in the Boy Scouts,” Ryder said. “You have to be prepared for campouts and interact with other men your age. It’s good that they allow religious groups to be exempted because for many men the BSA is a place where they can interact with their son and teach them skills they will value for the rest of their lives.”
Ryder believes parents should be present and active while their sons are in Scouts because these new policies will have them encounter people who struggle with their identity and that brings up questions about who you are.
“If my future son goes into the Boy Scouts, I want him to learn more about the values of BSA, not so much about this really personal issue that’s coming up in the public arena,” Ryder said. “As a father, I [would] want to make sure I was ready to face these tough questions and put him in a troop sponsored by a religious group. I want to help him become a man and learn the values of a good Christian life. I need to feel like I’m ready to answer those questions for him before I let him join.”
Senior Logan McCully, Eagle Scout, says the BSA’s policies still affects religious-sponsored troops because the Lutheran church his troop met at shut them down two years ago due to the BSA rule change.
“My troop was left with no home, but graciously my home parish took them in and became the new home of our troop,” McCully said.
McCully believes these new policies have both positive and negative effects on scouts in troops sponsored by religious institutions.
“My position is pretty neutral,” McCully said. “I think the BSA has good intentions, but I don’t think it’s the exact effect they want. It’s good that they upheld the religious freedom of religious institutions by not forcing them to obey the policy, but troops from religious institutions will meet homosexual scouts in other troops while they’re on campouts.
“The boys will question what’s going on because at that age they won’t understand these issues,” McCully added. “I think that can be scarring for them.”
McCully says he would like his son to be in the Boy Scouts someday because he knows from his own experience the benefits Scouting offers to helping boys become men, including the goal of rising in rank to Eagle Scout and learning different trades.