As a former Eagle Boy Scout and Scout leader, I'm on the Boy Scout mailing list. I have taken every opportunity to express my dislike for the anti-gay policy of the organization. Today, I got a link to a by-invitation-only survey on the matter. It was written in a non-biased way allowing people to express opinions without leading or emotional undercurrents. Besides the check boxes and rating scales, there were a couple questions seeking narrative response. I've copied the questions and my answers below.

What is your greatest concern if the policy remains in place and openly gay youth and adults are prohibited from joining Scouting? (Please be specific.)

Such a policy is not just a generality, but affects real specific kids by judging them and practicing the defacto punishment of exclusion. It not only hurts the youngsters but it teaches others that discrimination is acceptable. The social culture is changing. Even though the exclusion may have made sense decades ago, it is rapidly changing and will continue to do so. In this environment, if the Boy Scouts continue to drag behind they will become increasingly anachronistic among organizations. Certainly there will always be some who will object. Just like racial integration used to be deemed acceptable, people changed... not by waiting until everyone came along but by upholding principles of equality. There are still racists in the world and there will still be homophobes. Leadership is looking to the future and principle, not cowering in fear of backlash.

What is your greatest concern if the policy is changed to allow charter organizations to make their own decisions to admit openly gay Scouts and leaders? (Please be specific.)

The fact is that young people are learning to be accepting of gay people in much greater numbers than older people. Any such policy will be driven by the needs of the adults and the sponsors, not by the needs of the youth. Once that is enacted, there will be a bifurcation of the nature of scouting and those retrenched in the past will be increasingly resistance to change. While the change needs to be made sensitively it must be done as a whole. Consider if a particular organization decided to reject a youngster for being a racial minority? Or a Muslim? Or not holding specific religious beliefs of the sponsor? Can we say that rights are negotiable? Do rights change on the whims and opinions of whoever is in charge? Is it up to majority rule vote? If it's a right, it's a right for all.