Who Needs Honesty? Not Middle Tennessee Boy Scouts

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The Middle Tennessee Council of the Boy Scouts of America announced on Tuesday that it won't support a proposed policy change that would let gay Scouts not have to lie in order to be Boy Scouts. Why do the Boy Scouts continue to oppress gay scouts? Is it because Lee Beaman serves on the Board and one of his hobbies is giving money to anti-gay initiatives?

No, according to the story in The Tennessean, it's because:

“Sexuality’s not a part of our program,” [Hugh Travis, Scout executive for the Middle Tennessee Council] said. “The parents in Middle Tennessee have said to us, ‘Don’t bring it into scouting.’”

This isn't true, of course. Some displays of sexuality are entirely welcome by the Middle Tennessee Council — treated as ordinary, even. See this banner from their website and note the shiny spots on the ring fingers of their left hands:

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This isn't a problem. If you're affiliated with Scouting, you can flaunt your heterosexuality all you want. If you're gay, you need to lie about it and hide it. This puts gay Scouts in an untenable position — in order to be a part of an organization that stresses, "to live your life with honesty," you have to lie. Travis says as much: "That current policy is a don’t ask don’t tell policy and that’s what we’ve been operating under for 103 years."

Of course, if you're straight, it's totally fine for people to ask about your loved ones and for you to tell them. It's just the gay people who can't share an important and natural component of their lives.

Apparently the inherent dishonor of this situation — requiring gay Scouts to lie about who they are, treating them as less than straight Scouts — got to Boy Scout Leader Bill Moser. According to WSMV:


Boy Scout leader Bill Moser has been involved with the organization for more than 50 years.

He said it was a difficult decision, but he feels the Middle Tennessee policy that says openly gay scouts can't participate goes against everything the group teaches.

Moser said he personally believes the purpose of the Scouts is to build a responsible and productive society, according to a report in the Leaf-Chronicle.

He said teaching intolerance is not Boy Scout oath or law.

The Boy Scouts have cheated themselves out of a good leader. They're cheating themselves out of the contributions of gay boys and young men who take seriously the Boy Scouts' insistence on honesty. And they've cheated themselves out of an opportunity to model tolerance and learning to work together with people they don't necessarily agree with.

That seems a pretty steep price to pay to get to be on the wrong side of history for a little while longer.

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