Either the Boy Scouts of America embrace the changing times or face its demise as a national movement, the organization’s president said on Thursday as he urged members to reconsider the group’s ban on adult gay leaders, calling it “unsustainable.”
Robert Gates told a crowd in Atlanta that organizations such as scouting movements must be willing to adhere to changes because the current policy “cannot be sustained.” If the movement opts to remain hard on banning adult gay leaders, Gates said the organization opens itself to litigation and continuous negative publicity.
“We must deal with the world as it is, not as we might want it to be,” the former CIA director and secretary of Defense told members of the 105-year-old BSA.
Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout and the executive director of advocacy group Scouts for Equality, cited by the LA Times, said he hoped the BSA receives the message of Gates and that the time won’t come for the courts to interfere and decide for the group. If they don’t make the change on their terms, the courts surely will make the change, Wahls said.
Gates noted that dozens of states in America have already passed and enacted laws promoting the protection of employment rights based on sexual orientation. He said the BSA will be caught in a web of internal challenges and potential legal conflicts if the ban will proceed.
“The BSA finds itself in an unsustainable position.”
Sean Walker, a chapter lead of the Nashua Valley chapter of Scouts for Equality, confirmed to Boston Herald the scouting movement is facing a lot of outside pressures to change the membership policy as well as a growing sense of discontent within.
“Waiting for the courts is a gamble with huge stakes,” Gates said at the Scouts’ national annual meeting. “Alternatively, we can move at some future date — but sooner rather than later — to seize control of our own future, set our own course and change our policy in order to allow charter partners — unit sponsoring organizations — to determine the standards for their Scout leaders.”