The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

The Rave

June 20, 2013

Move reflects on Scouts, not GSVUW

NEW YORK — The Greater Susquehanna Valley United Way’s decision to withhold discretionary funding from the Boy Scouts is a bold move. It is also one that reflects equally on the two organizations involved.

The United Way took a principled stance based not on finances, but rather on its namesake belief that we can live united and be stronger and better for it, the belief that discrimination is simply unacceptable. It is a belief the century-old Boy Scouts of America side-stepped last month when it allowed gay Scouts to be part of the organization, but not gay adults.

The Boy Scouts tried to appear inclusive, yet they weren’t. “We applaud the Boys Scout organization for including gay youth, but without any rationale, they’ve excluded gay adults,” said Keri Albright, the GSVUW president and CEO.

The problem with defending discrimination is that there is not a lot of gray area. You either discriminate or you don’t. Period.

The Boy Scouts tried to have it both ways and the United Way, rightly, stood its ground.

The reasons for the stance are many, but none is better than this one offered by GSVUW Board Chairman Eric Rowe: “We’re thinking about the young Scout with a gay parent who wants to be a volunteer leader. The message that’s being sent to that kid now is that is his dad is not OK if he’s gay, perpetuating a stereotype that the United Way can’t support.”

Interpretive comment about the United Way position tries to dissociate that organization from “so-called” traditional values, as if a social tradition of enslaving, murdering, ostracizing, diminishing, disrespecting and marginalizing people for genetically coded conditions is somehow a value Americans hold dear. It is not. Our graveyards and history books are filled with millions of Americans who gave their lives to establish the worth of every person and fulfill the promise of malice toward none and liberty for all.

For the better part of a century, the Boy Scouts of America have boasted of building character and citizenship, which can help build a “more conscientious, responsible and productive society.”

The group has done an admirable job in doing all of those things for generations, no one will deny that. There are times, however, when an opportunity presents itself to add to that character-building. The Scouts missed that chance when they kept their discriminatory policy in place and now they are seeing the consequences.

“We fund programs that reflect the value and practice of welcoming people of diverse backgrounds,” Albright said.

There are more than 130 merit badges available to Scouts. There is not one for diversity. Maybe there needs to be.

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