Pointing to the 2000 Supreme Court decision that upheld the private group’s right to choose its members, he adds via e-mail, “just because the Supreme Court has said the Boy Scouts are allowed to have this policy does not mean that it is just or that it is consistent with basic human compassion.”
In its statement announcing the decision to continue the ban on both gay scouts and leaders, the Texas-based Boy Scouts of America (BSA) cited support from parents and said the decision was the result of a two-year review by a panel that represented “a diversity of perspectives and opinions."
Further, the statement, which did not identify the panel members, said, "the review included forthright and candid conversation and extensive research and evaluations – both from within Scouting and from outside of the organization."
But group members say the move flies in the face of the organization’s own stated values.
“It is reprehensible that BSA would exclude gays,” says Michael Reinemer, a current Scout leader and former Boy Scout who lives in Annandale, Va. While the Boy Scouts is a private organization, he says, “it is also an American institution that develops character. Its highest level of leadership training (Wood Badge) requires involvement in bringing diversity to your scout unit.”
While the Boy Scouts may have the right to discriminate, the public also has the right to choose other options for young boys, says Professor Cohen, adding, “as each successive public opinion poll shows, Americans are not comfortable with bigotry against lesbian and gay individuals. Continuing this policy is a recipe for the Boy Scouts to wither away and be remembered as a bigoted organization that refused to change with the times.”