Thanks to the efforts of advocates around the country, the Boy Scouts of America decided this week to extend membership to openly gay youth, affirming that no membership may be denied “on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.”
The goal to extend these rights to adult volunteers in the organization, however, was not reached. Today, United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and President Obama have released statements expressing disappointment in the National Council’s decision.
In a statement posted the U.S. Department of Education’s webpage, Duncan writes:
“The Boy Scouts of America has been supporting the learning and development of youth for more than a century. The Scouts have helped boys gain skills in camping, hiking and nature, but also engineering, robotics and medicine. And scouting has been the foundation for character development for millions of young men. I can’t think of a better lesson in character than one that teaches our young people to value the contributions each of us makes and respect one another. The Scouts have made a historic step in the right direction, and I encourage them to continue to move forward in ensuring equality throughout the organization.”
President Obama, who also serves as honorary President of the Boy Scouts of America, released a statement to the Washington Blade this morning, expressing similar hopes for the organization. By way of White House spokesman Shin Inouye:
“The President welcomes the decision by the Boy Scouts of America to open its membership to all, regardless of sexual orientation. He has long believed that the Scouts is a valuable organization that has helped educate and build character in American boys for more than a century. He continues to believe that leadership positions in the Scouts should be open to all, regardless of sexual orientation.”
If you can’t take a hint from the highest voice in the land, what will it take?
To date, GLAAD has collected over 1.8 million signatures urging the BSA to void the discriminatory band on all gay members—a mission they don’t plan on giving up anytime soon.
“Gay parents and adults should be accepted into Scouting and our campaign for change will continue until that happens,” said GLAAD spokesperson Rich Ferraro. “As openly gay youth begin participating in Scouting and earn Eagle Rank, the Boy Scouts will come to realize that gay Americans and our families only strengthen Scouting as an institution.”