It seems like every time I check my news feed I see half a dozen articles that piss me off. I should really just stop reading the news, it always puts me in a bad mood.
Today I read a piece on the Huffington Post, “Why the Boy Scouts new policy on gays sets a dangerous precedent.” Article.
Before I go into the wrongness of the article I’ll give you a little background on myself. I was an active member in boy scouts for many years, during that time (fifteen years or so ago) were the first debates about homosexuals in scouting. I came down firmly on the side of gay rights. It was too early then, the changes were shot down. Many boy scout troops are also sponsored by religious organizations, mainly Christian, something else I was not a fan of, but that was the driving force behind the ban on homosexuals in the organization.
However… I think the BSA (Boy Scouts of America) just made a step in the right direction and opinion pieces like the one in the Huffington Post are steps in the wrong direction.
To summarize the writer’s problem with the BSA, they lifted the ban on homosexual scout leaders, something that has been in place for a long time, but the BSA isn’t forcing individual troops to accept homosexuals. In other words, it’s up to each sub group of scouts to decide whether or not to allow gay leaders. This is a huge problem for the writer of the article because it still allows for discrimination. He basically calls this a “cop out”, a way to side step the issue without looking like they are discriminating.
But that’s really, really a stupid way to look at things and contributes to the rising tensions between LGBT groups and religious organizations.
Look at it like this, LGBT groups want acceptance and respect for their beliefs and lifestyle… but want to force that acceptance and respect on others? You’re a religiously sponsored scout group, well you have to accept homosexual scout leaders. Or, if you want to broaden the argument, forcing other Christian businesses to provide services to support homosexual marriage, etc.
Wait? Isn’t that what LGBT activists have been saying that religious groups have been doing to them forever? Forcing their religious beliefs on society and LGBT people?
The bottom line here is that if people want others to respect them and their beliefs the first step should be respecting other’s. We’re all different, with different experiences, expectations, and backgrounds. Either side trying to force their beliefs on anyone else is going to create even more distance between diverse people instead of finding middle ground. A religion has no more right to impose on others than someone else has to impose on them.
In the case of the BSA, I think they made the right call. They lifted the ban, allowed each troop to make the decisions that are right for them, without forcing the changes on everyone. I think that’s a win, it opens the doors to change without hammering the issue. You can’t change decades of tradition (good or bad) and long held belief systems overnight, and trying to will only make them dig in their heels and resist even more. Over time homosexual leaders will be more accepted and more widespread, but it’ll happen organically and without pressure. That’s how real change is made, over time as people understand and accept them, not through legislation or force.
In the larger picture with social issues, what really needs to happen is for all these groups on both sides to step back and take a deep breath. If everybody gives a little maybe we can all find a way to happily coexist, and isn’t that the goal?