Minnesota’s Star Tribune has learned that individual Boy Scout chapters are taking cues from their own communities about LGBT inclusion. Meanwhile, the national organization may have more important badges to hand out than ‘Anti-Gay Witch Hunter’:
Minnesota’s biggest Boy Scout group said Tuesday that gays and lesbians remain welcome in its troops, despite a national announcement that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) will continue to bar leaders, employees and members who are “open or avowed homosexuals.”
“We’re a reflection of the community,” said Kent York, spokesman for the Northern Star Council, which has 75,000 Scouts in Minnesota and western Wisconsin. “Our commitment has been to reach out to all young people and have a positive influence.”
York said that the Twin Cities-based Scout council, one of the nation’s largest, will continue to follow a 12-year-old “inclusive leadership selection” practice.
“Every council is reflective of their community,” he said.
Which makes sense. Large organizations express their identity differently in different places. No matter how hard you try (or don’t try) to enforce a top-down organizational culture, groups are affected by the cultures of the people within them.
LifeSiteNews, however, was not impressed. They say that the group left a local parish “blindsided,” its priest “alarmed.”
Rev. John Echert, pastor of Holy Trinity Parish in South St. Paul, Minnesota, told LSN that he immediately broke his church’s ties with the Twin Cities group, and announced the rupture to his congregation, after learning the group had permitted open homosexuality “for years.” Although the split was amicable, he said, he was alarmed not to have known about the Council’s divergence from national policy earlier.
While LifeSite repeatedly emails the Boy Scouts to confirm how homophobic they are really, the 2.8 million-strong youth organization is dealing with much more serious issues.
An LA Times exposé just revealed the group’s ineffective and insular response to allegations of child abuse within their ranks from 1970 to 1991:
A Los Angeles Times review of more than 1,200 files dating from 1970 to 1991 found more than 125 cases across the country in which men allegedly continued to molest Scouts after the organization was first presented with detailed allegations of abusive behavior.
Predators slipped back into the program by falsifying personal information or skirting the registration process. Others were able to jump from troop to troop around the country thanks to clerical errors, computer glitches or the Scouts’ failure to check the blacklist.
The report reveals some serious issues around child safety, rape culture, and the dismissal of victim experiences. Perhaps this is more of a priority right now for BSA than pandering to homophobia.