It was quite a point of pride when the Boy Scouts of America got Robert Gates, the respected former secretary of Defense, CIA director and college president, to take the helm of the organization. Some conservative adults in positions of influence with the Scouts may now be having second thoughts.
But they should not. Gates’ announcement that he believes the Scouts should end the blanket ban on gay adult leaders simply represents his attempt to keep the organization enlightened. As Gates, a conservative himself, said, “We must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be.” That’s it exactly. Younger folks in particular are not nearly as preoccupied with sexual orientation as something that disqualifies people from anything, be it marriage or the Scouts.
And the Scouts surely have had gay leaders, whose orientations simply weren’t known because it was nobody’s business.
The Scouts will allow local religious organizations to continue to set their own standards for leaders. But the fact that a person of Gates’ stature among conservatives would take this stand should put local groups in a position to quietly remove any leadership prejudices against those who are gay.
The Boy Scouts have always been a conservative organization. They still will be if Gates’ recommendation is followed.