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July 23, 2012 at 7:30 AM

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Boy Scouts of America keep ban on gay members

Truly unacceptable in the 21st century

Shame on the Boy Scouts of America [“Despite protests, Boy Scouts keep ban on gays,” news, July 18]. Not only do they produce overconfident, dangerous outdoorsmen, but they perpetuate a legacy of militarism and bigotry.

The mission of scouting is at heart to provide support, fellowship, instruction to all boys — something which the BSA has consistently failed to do. Rather, it has retreated into the refuge of “tradition,” as if the prejudices of today are in any way less repugnant due to their acceptability in the past.

The refusal to accept homosexual or nonreligious scouts is truly unacceptable in the 21st century. These boys have as much passion for the outdoors, as much need for support and friendship, as any other. What should be a place for all, has become a place for the few; and woe betide the scout who questions or strays from this path.

In an increasingly diverse, increasingly changing America, to seek the safety of homogeneity is to die, and the numbers reflect this. Membership numbers of the Boy Scouts have been in decline, in part due to increases in other opportunities for recreation, as well as an increasing awareness of the culture of intolerance and silence within the organization.

I have spent the last six years of my life deeply involved in outdoor recreation, and it truly saddens me that I cannot support what should be an integral part of the American outdoor community; the potential for good within this institution is immense. Instead, the BSA has become a place of indoctrination and hatred.

There already exists a model of scouting which need not have these issues; overseas scouting organizations make few distinctions between religion, sexuality and even gender. This is the path to the future.

At this moment, the BSA stands on the wrong side of history; they must change, or find themselves increasingly irrelevant, increasingly an artifact of the reactionary past. It is my hope that they may do so before it’s too late.

— Lyman E. Howard III, Kirkland

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