Current Weather
The Spy FM

Boy Scouts’ Repeal Of Gay Ban Mirrors Its Approach To Racial Integration

Filed by KOSU News in US News.
January 30, 2013

As Boy Scouts of America mulls whether to allow gay members to openly join, their approach might mirror the leave-it-to-the-locals tack the organization once took in deciding how to tackle the issue of desegregating its scout troops.

“The Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents,” Deron Smith, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America, said yesterday. “This would mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation, and the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with each organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs.”

Some local leaders said they stand by the BSA’s decision.

“Local scout councils agree to support whatever decision is made by our national board,” Steve Wilburn, an official at the Old Hickory Council Council in North Carolina told the Winston-Salem Journal.

But it’s unclear how much the policy will result in changes for many troops. For much of the early 20th century, the Scouts’ national leadership did not endorse segregation or discrimination, but still gave wide discretion to councils to set their own racial policies. Unsurprisingly, many chapters — especially in the segregated South — opted not to admit black scouts. Some troops imposed long waiting periods before letting blacks join, while others allowed black boys to join but prohibited them from wearing uniforms. (Boy Scouts officials in Richmond, Va., once even threatened to stage a public burning of Scout uniforms if black boys were permitted to wear them.) And while the first black troop was formed in 1911, just a year after the Boy Scouts’ founding, it wasn’t until decades later that many troops eased their rules on segregation, and not until 1974 when the aforementioned Old Hickory council — one of the last segregated Boy Scout councils — finally integrated.

The local-level approach might not satisfy either supporters or opponents of the BSA’s decision to drop antigay language from its policies. “It’s a step in the right direction, and good to see that B.S.A. is softening its position,” said Zach Wahls, an advocate for gay rights. “But under the policy change, it will still be possible for some units to discriminate.”

But Margaret Kreider, the mother of an Eagle Scout in Lousiana, said lifting the ban would put small troops who don’t want to admit gays in an untenable position.

“It will be the small troops that decide they don’t want to have a homosexual leader, and then where do they go for help?” she told the New York Times. “If they get sued by the A.C.L.U. or whatever organization decides to come after them, they won’t have the resources or the backing of the Boy Scouts of America because of this policy. It will be the destruction of the Boy Scouts.” [Copyright 2013 NPR]

Leave a Reply

9AM to 10PM Sound Opinions

Sound Opinions

Take two nationally respected rock critics, the latest music news, personal commentary, and exclusive interviews and performances, add a huge pile of records old and new, and the result is Sound Opinions-the world's only rock and roll talk show.

Listen Live Now!

10AM to 12PM The Toaster Brunch

The Toaster Brunch

The Toaster Brunch is our Sunday morning Reggae show, hosted by E-Roy. The Toaster Brunch has an active following of scooter clubs and rastas from around the world. E-Roy is also a high school principal.

View the program guide!

12PM to 1PM This American Life

This American Life

Take in a slice of Americana with critically acclaimed host Ira Glass on "This American Life." Each week he picks a theme, then gives his writers and performers the freedom to weave real stories from real people around that theme in a manner they find most engaging.

View the program guide!

Upcoming Events in your area (Submit your event today!)

Streaming audio and podcasts

Stream KOSU on your smartphone

Phone Streaming

SmartPhone listening options on this page are intended for many iPhones, Blackberries, etc. with low-cost software applications available to listen to our full-time web streams, both News on KOSU-1 and Classical on KOSU-2.

Learn more about our complete range of streaming services

We're perfecting the patient experience - Stillwater Medical Center