Boy Scouts must choose

The Boy Scouts have helped millions of boys during the organization’s more than 100-year history.

These are rocky times for the organization, however, as it finds itself the latest battleground between national liberals and national conservatives over its policies regarding gay scouts and scoutmasters. The Scouts are considering opening membership to gay Scouts and scoutmasters, with a decision expected in May.

The Boy Scouts have a much tougher road to travel than the Girl Scouts, whose official policies state the organization doesn’t discriminate or recruit based on race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, national origin or physical or developmental disability. Official Girl Scout literature avoids any references to homosexuality and the organization does not allow advocacy or promotion of certain lifestyles.

Because the Girl Scouts’ policy has been in place for decades, it will never have to face the political rancor the Boy Scouts are dealing with right now.

The Boy Scouts’ have a right, as a private nonprofit organization, to adopt and enforce its own rules. The U.S. Supreme reinforced that right recently, in 2000, when it upheld the organization’s dismissal of an openly gay Scout volunteer. The right of private groups to set their own membership parameters has been upheld by the Supreme Court for decades – and that shouldn’t change.

There is no middle road for the Boy Scouts. The national organization’s choice will disappoint someone.

That is a choice for the organization, and no one else, to make.

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