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Should the Boy Scouts Admit Gays?

Headquarters says no, but one Eagle Scout disagrees


We are very pleased with the Supreme Court's decision [in June 2000, upholding the Boy Scouts of America's right to bar gay people] ... This decision affirms our standing as a private association with the right to set its own standards for membership and leadership.

This decision allows us to continue our mission of providing character-building experiences for young people, which has been our chartered purpose since our founding....

The Boy Scouts of America, as a private organization, must have the right to establish its own standards of membership if it is to continue to instill in boys the values of the Scout Oath and Law to boys ...

We believe an avowed homosexual is not a role model for the values espoused in the Scout Oath and Law.

Boy Scouting makes no effort to discover the sexual orientation of any person. Scouting's message is compromised when prospective leaders present themselves as role models inconsistent with Boy Scouting's understanding of the Scout Oath and Law.

Scouting's record of inclusion is impressive by any standard. However, we do ask all of our members to do their best to live the Scout Oath and Law. We respect other people's right to hold differing opinions, and ask that they respect ours....

--Boy Scouts of America Statement, June 28, 2000


I earned the rank of Eagle, the highest rank in Boy Scouts, when I was 13. I love Scouting. But I'm ashamed that the Boy Scouts of America discriminates against gays.

My parents always taught me that everybody should be treated equally. I have a lot of gay friends, and one of them is a minister who leads the church camp I go to every year. He has taught me a lot about moral issues and values. And when I found out that the Scouts discriminate against people like him, it just blew my mind away. I was like, "Wait a minute--this isn't fair!"

The Boy Scouts of America doesn't even follow its own Scout Law when it discriminates against gay people. The Scout Law says a Scout "treats others as he wants to be treated." I don't know anyone who wants to be discriminated against the way the Boy Scouts of America discriminates against gays.

There's nothing in the Scout Oath or Law about sexual orientation. The Oath says you have to be "morally straight"--but that doesn't mean heterosexual, just moral. They've got that so mixed up!

Some of their supporters say that gay people are child molesters. But the BSA knows that kids are molested by pedophiles, not by gay people.

I couldn't live with myself if I was in Scouting and my friends couldn't be, just because of their orientation. So I had to do something about it.

I cofounded a group called Scouting for All, which is circulating a petition for a change in the Scouts' policy. Writing a letter to my Congresswoman about this issue even helped me earn a "Citizenship of the Nation" merit badge.

--STEVEN COZZA, 15 Petaluma, Calif.
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Title Annotation:opposing views
Publication:New York Times Upfront
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 2, 2000
Previous Article:Screen Test for the White House.
Next Article:2000-2001 world affairs annual.

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