On May 22-24, the Boy Scouts of America will gather for their board meeting, in which they will vote whether to change or completely eliminate the ban on gay scouts and leaders. Just a few weeks ago, the Boy Scouts proposed dropping the ban on gay scouts, but retaining it for gay adult leaders. In this time leading up to the vote, many groups are rallying and organizing their followers, including some of the leading anti-gay activists.
The Family Research Council, probably the premiere anti-gay organization, is throwing their efforts into high gear, holding a “Stand with Scouts Sunday” event this weekend. The event consists of a webcast encouraging the Boy Scouts to keep their policy of discrimination not only against gay and lesbian adults, but youth as well.
In a promotional video for the webcast, the FRC claims that by possibly allowing gay scouts, the organization has lost its way, noting that 70% of scout troops are sponsored by churches, synagogues, and faith-based organizations. According to The FRC’s logic, allowing gay scouts (even while excluding gay leaders) will drive away the more religious sponsoring organizations.
What they fail to mention is that many (and a growing number) of religious denominations and organizations support a fully inclusive scouting policy. Lutherans, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and most branches of Judaism have formal policies that allow LGBT people into membership and leadership within the denomination.
The United Church of Christ and the Unitarian Universalist Association have gone as far to endorse Scouts for Equality and are actively calling for a fully inclusive policy for scouts and leaders. Even many United Methodists and Catholics support LGBT people, even if that’s not reflected in denominational policy.
Finally, and probably most significantly, the Mormon Church, the largest sponsor of scouting troops, has endorsed the policy of allowing gay scouts. For the Mormon Church (and possibly for the Methodist and Catholic churches), the proposed new scouting policy closely matches the policy of the church, allowing gay participants, but barring gay leadership.
Stand with Scouts Sunday showcases some of the leading activists of the anti-gay industry. Tony Perkins, the President of the Family Research Council, is one of the leading speakers for the webcast. This is the same man who has called gay people “pawns of the enemy,” and terrorists. He has called for parents to reject their gay children, and blames every societal ill on LGBT people.
Joining Perkins is John Stemberger, who has founded “On My Honor” to oppose any change in the Boy Scouts policy. John Stemberger has compared President Obama to Hitler and Stalin, would like to see gay people criminalized, and compares marriage equality to incest.
So what will you hear if you tune into the Stand with Scouts Sunday webcast? Probably a lot of dire predictions. Frankly, not all that different than what we hear come from the FRC at any other time. This is the same group that says that gay young people have a higher propensity for depression or suicide because of internal conflict and distributes a brochure predicting that humans will marry horses if marriage equality is allowed. I’m sure we can expect to see similar predictions be made regarding the Boy Scouts policy.