Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN) and OutServe, an association of actively serving LGBT members of the armed forces, on Thursday joined the chorus of advocacy groups calling on the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to abandon its policy against gay scouts and gay and lesbian scout leaders.
Earlier this week, the Boy Scouts, which boasts 2.7 million youth members and more than a million adult volunteers, reaffirmed its anti-gay policy, calling it “absolutely the best policy for the Boy Scouts.”
The Boy Scouts claimed that an 11-member special committee, formed discreetly by top Scout leaders in 2010, had spent two years reviewing the policy, and concluded that it would not reverse its position, despite online campaigns by gay rights advocates and advocacy groups and recent prodding from board members.
“This discriminatory policy sends a disturbing and indefensible message of bigotry to our nation’s next generation of leaders, many of whom we know will seek a career in our armed forces, where gay and lesbian Americans may now serve openly, said Army Veteran and SLDN Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis, who was also a member of Boy Scouts of America in his youth.
“Indeed, scouting historically has provided a steady stream of qualified applicants for the nation’s military service academies.
“It’s time for the Boy Scouts of America to catch up with the new policies in place as a result of the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,’ lift this outdated and discriminatory ban, and affirm the dignity and contributions of all who wish to serve,” said Sarvis, in a statement.
Sue Fulton — a 1980 West Point graduate and former Army Captain, Executive Director of Knights Out, and member of the OutServe Board of Directors — joined Sarvis in calling for the Boy Scouts of America to abandon the anti-gay policy.
“There should be no place for discrimination in one of America’s most beloved and historic institutions for our youth. The Boy Scouts of America should follow the lead of the Girl Scouts and send a strong and powerful message that there is a place for all young people who want to serve their communities,” she said.
Since its founding in 1910, more than 110 million Americans have been members of the BSA.