Cathy Ruse

There is deception in the ranks of the Boy Scouts of America.

A faction in the national leadership of the BSA wants to get rid of the longstanding membership policy against “open and avowed” homosexuality. But the way it’s going about it is not worthy of the Boy Scouts.

The BSA Executive Committee recently released a resolution which will be presented to the National Council for a vote on May 23. To the surprise of many, the resolution addresses only “youth membership,” leaving in place the prohibition on open homosexuality on the part of leaders.

It has been widely characterized as a “compromise,” but no Boy Scout should be fooled. The tension this incoherent policy would create would make it practically and legally unsustainable, and those pushing the resolution surely know that.

Under the policy, open homosexuality would be officially consistent with the Scouting code throughout a Scout’s career until the moment he turns 18, when it suddenly becomes inconsistent with the code. And then what? No troop leader would want to put himself in the position of enforcing such an irrational rule, and likely few would. A de facto change in leadership rules would occur almost immediately.

But it won’t stop there. This move could forfeit the legal victory the Scouts won at the Supreme Court over a decade ago. When the organization was sued for unlawful discrimination, the Court ruled in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale that the BSA has the right to maintain its membership policy under its First Amendment speech and association rights. But if the Scouts’ new “speech” is incoherent – open homosexuality is consistent with the Scouting code except when it isn’t – there may be no legal basis left for courts to uphold one part of the code over another. It will be a lawsuit nightmare for the Scouts.

The truth is, a vote to allow open homosexuality on the part of scout members is a vote to allow open homosexuality on the part of scout leaders. The executives who drafted the resolution know it. It isn’t the first time they’ve intended to deceive.

Last year the results of an in-depth, two-year study of Boy Scout families showed overwhelming support for the long-standing membership policy. This was a frustration to those in the Executive Committee who want to change the policy, so they conducted another survey in February.

The February survey can fairly be called a “push poll,” a device used by political campaigns to try to influence the views of respondents under the guise of conducting a poll.


Cathy Ruse

Cathy Ruse has devoted her professional career to promoting the dignity of the human person. Her professional experience spans the fields of communication, public policy, and law.