Are the Boy Scouts of America turning over a new, more accepting leaf?
That will likely be the question on many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocates' minds after a writer for Scouting magazine, the organization's official publication, has submitted a blog in support of "No Name-Calling Week," an annual anti-bullying event established by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN).
"No Name-Calling Week begins today, so it's an excellent time to remind Scouts and Scouters that these 'harmless' insults can do real damage to a boy or girl," writes the author, who is identified on the blog simply as Bryan. He then offers three ideas from fellow Scouters, followed by seven additional suggestions, to stop name-calling from within a Boy Scout troop. These include nominating a "name-calling" watchdog, and creating and posting anti-bullying signs and posters.
Though it may seem minor, embracing a pro-LGBT organization's event is likely to be viewed as a considerably progressive step for Boy Scouts given its checkered history with such affairs. Many advocates have long been outraged by what they have deemed as the organization's explicit anti-gay policy, which allegedly bars openly gay members from participating as troop members or leaders.
Nonetheless, GLSEN'S Executive Director Dr. Eliza Byard praised Boy Scouts of America's new move, while acknowledging that more progress within the organization needed to be made. "I'm delighted the Boy Scouts of America’s official publication is calling on its adult leaders to join with the tens of thousands of educators and other youth-serving professionals who are currently observing No Name-Calling Week in order to improve the lives of millions of youth," Byard said in a statement. "However, the lessons of this week are not enough to counteract the overwhelmingly negative message sent to scouts by the Boy Scouts of America’s continuing anti-LGBT policies. The Boy Scouts of America must recognize that gay people can be –- and are –- positive contributors to its vision of building respectful and service-oriented leaders of tomorrow."