WASHINGTON, DC — The Secular Coalition for America today said the Boy Scouts’ recent decision to allow openly gay boys is a positive step in the right direction, but does not go far enough. The SCA expressed disappointment that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has decided to continue its policy of discrimination against atheists and gay Scout leaders.
On Thursday, Boy Scouts leaders voted to open their ranks to openly gay boys for the first time. However, the Scouts’ longstanding ban on atheists and gay adults remains.
Edwina Rogers, executive director of the Secular Coalition for America said the Coalition is pleased that the Scouts have decided to allow openly gay youth, but that it’s not enough.
“Discrimination is wrong — whether it’s directed at children or adults, atheists or the religious,” Rogers said. “We will continue to encourage the Scouts to address the full range of discrimination against atheists and LGBT adults.
While the Boy Scouts is a private organization, it holds a Congressional Charter and accepts federal funds via the use of supplies, space and equipment.
Equal Opportunity regulations in the military explicitly prohibit support of organizations that discriminate, however, there is close collaboration between the military and the Scouts. The President of the United States traditionally serves as the honorary president of the BSA, and Eagle Scouts are given automatic promotions upon enlistment in all branches of U.S. military service. In addition, there are explicit regulatory concessions given to BSA to use on-post military buildings and to support Boy Scout Jamborees. Finally, the Department of Defense promotes scouting among military families.
“No organization that discriminates on the basis of religion or religious beliefs should receive federal support,” Rogers said. “We look forward to a time when the Boy Scouts will be a completely inclusive organization that does not discriminate at all based on religious belief or sexual orientation.”