For the second time in four months, the Boys Scouts of America have passed on a definitive stance regarding gays in their ranks. Call it a split decision if you will. They propose to allow homosexual scouts to be part of one of the nation's oldest youth-serving organizations, while keeping its ban on gay leaders in place.
In January, the BSA's national leaders talked about allowing gays into the group, but left the final decision up to the local chapters, who could discriminate if they saw fit. The latest decision, again, comes with an out for BSA.
Instead of ending its discriminatory policy completely, the BSA draws the line at age 18. Some may see it as a way to protect scouts. But what does it say about adult leaders and volunteers?
There has never been an ounce of proof that homosexual adults are more predatory upon youngsters than heterosexuals. In fact, the opposite would seem to be true in the majority of cases, just look at every instance of teacher-student trouble around the nation. And if that is true, why wouldn't BSA leaders want to exclude heterosexual leaders as much if not more so than their gay counterparts?
It was a decision, according to a spokesman, that the BSA came to after listening to 200,000 respondents to a survey. They decided, fortunately, that "youths should not be denied the benefits of scouting."
Great. Scouting has been a cornerstone for American boys for more than a century and should continue to be so.
A closeted society has its own dynamic, leading to impressions and suspicions that may actually disappear by virtue of greater openness and acceptance. That possibility seems real enough to merit a second look from the BSA.
Locally, this has been a hot-button issue. When the BSA talked about opening the closet doors in January, several organizations, including the Greater Susquehanna Valley United Way, voted to withhold some funding while the BSA reviewed its discriminatory practice.
GSVUW has a policy of not supporting discriminatory organizations. Donations designated to the Boy Scouts continued. But discretionary dollars for the Scouts were placed on hold. After the BSA reaches its conclusion, the local United Way will review the situation.
"We are inclusive and don't discriminate," United Way CEO Keri Albright said. Maybe that is a view the Boy Scouts of America need to give greater credence.