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As the mother of two former Boy Scouts, as the daughter of a former Cub Scout Den Mother and as a priest and pastor I am paying attention as the Boy Scouts’ National Council gathers in Dallas this week to vote on a resolution on the Boy Scouts’ longstanding ban on gay members. And my message to them as they gather is that it is time for that ban to end.
It is time for the Boy Scouts to walk the talk of their diversity statement (“Scouts come from all walks of life, all types of family units, faiths, and racial and ethnic groups”) and to live out the Scout oath “to help other people at all times” by removing the asterisk after “other people*” that reads “*unless they are gay kids wanting to experience the gifts that Scouting offers.”
It is time to refuse to allow what is best about Scouting to be held hostage by homophobia. It is time to stop being blackmailed into bigotry by the increasingly strident voices from the fringe who insist that continued discrimination is their price tag for participation. It is time for equality.
We have been having this discussion for a very long time. Over a decade ago at its 2000 General Convention, the Episcopal Church adopted a resolution to “Encourage the Boy Scouts of America to allow membership to youth and adult leaders irrespective of their sexual orientation.” And today, faith leaders from the Methodists to the Mormons have issued statements supporting lifting the ban against gay kids.
The Boy Scouts do not “need more time” to send the message to young gay American kids that they are just as loved, valued and important as their straight friends and neighbors. They need to claim the courage of their convictions, the values of the Scout oath and do the right thing in Dallas.
The time is now to end discrimination against our kids — and fair minded Americans need to step up, speak out, and drown out the voices of those marginalizing and excluding gay youth from Scouting. Justice delayed IS justice denied — and both our kids and our country deserve better!
The Rev. Canon Susan Russell is Senior Associate at All Saints Church in Pasadena California.