A small group of Boy Scouts gathered today outside of the New Birth of Freedom Council office in Mechanicsburg to protest the possible inclusion of openly gay scouts. Next week, the national Boy Scouts of America will vote on a policy which will allow openly gay youth to be in the organization.
The rally was promoted by On My Honor, “the official coalition of concerned parents, Scout Leaders, Scouting Donors, Eagle Scouts and other BSA members who are united in their support of Scouting’s timeless values and their opposition to open homosexuality in the Scouts,” and coincided with about 50 other rallies held across the country.
State Rep. Will Tallman, (R-Adams) spoke briefly at the rally, saying that the Boy Scouts of America had been subject to, “…attack after attack because of their success in building leaders,” and that the organization was being coerced by outside parties through limiting meeting spaces and cutting off funding.
One attendee of the event, Tom Farcht of Newberrytown, told PennLive that inclusion of openly gay scouts would increase incidents of sexual assault. Executive Director of the Pennsylvania Student Equality Coalition, Jason Landau Goodman commented to PennLive, “There’s no basis for those claims. It’s clear prejudice and bigotry that would promote such an idea that LGBT people are [no more likely to] engage with those kinds of illegal and inappropriate acts. As a society, we have to dismiss those kinds of comments for what they are: untrue, baseless and deeply harmful to promoting healthy communities.”
Several of the Boy Scouts in attendance at the rally spoke to PennLive about their beliefs as to why openly gay members should not be allowed. One scout stated that he would be uncomfortable sharing a tent with a scout who was sexually attracted to him. Another said that introducing a sexual agenda would “distort the organization.” Scoutmaster Don Smith of Troop 107 in McSherrystown told ABC27 news that those rallying hoped to send a message to their delegates within the New Birth of Freedom Council to vote “no” on the proposal. Smith said that he opposed allowing openly gay scouts on the grounds that the Boy Scouts was not a proper place to discuss sexuality, and that it is “not my place as a scoutmaster, even if it is imposed on me from a national policy [to do so.]”
Even if the proposal by the Boy Scouts of America to allow openly gay youth passes, adult LGBTQ scoutmasters and volunteers will be barred from the organization.
Image via PennLive