Former Secretary of State Robert Gates and now the leader of the Boy Scouts of America announced that it is time that the organization drop its ban on prohibiting gays from serving as Scout leaders. He received a standing ovation.
Well, it’s about time.
In the U.S., the tide has changed as far as public opinion is concerned on the civil rights and acceptance of gay citizens. Most Americans favor gay marriage and most Americans believe that gay citizens need their rights protected and discrimination eliminated.
What took the Scouts so long? Even this change of heart (but not a change in policy yet) is a lost opportunity for the Boy Scouts brand. The organization has sat too long on the wrong side of history. It was just another way in which the organization can be looked at as just slightly queer.
Brands must take the lead to remain important.
Brands that are trying to be for general audiences need to find ways to be slightly ahead of the curve…not way behind it. The Boy Scouts of America had demonstrated its narrow view of our general population (estimates are that more than 10% of the US population is gay). It has demonstrated that is is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. It can now also be accepting and tolerant. It currently does not speak these final two values in its Scout Law because the organization (not the Scouts themselves) had a moral compass that is less rooted in belief than it is in the process of what is right.
Brands remain important and urgent when they become thought leaders, not thought followers. I hope the Scout movement remedies this shortfall and grasp on what is right and important in the society it mines for new members. It has made strides, allowing gay Boy Scouts.
It needs to have a belief in inclusion. A belief that always stands on the right side of history because it finds its beginnings in a core belief in tolerance. How can tolerance in any way be a bad thing?
Or, it could touch its finder to its tongue, raise it to the breeze and wait to discover the wind’s own direction. It may seem quaint, like making your own compass with a magnetized needle in a floating cork, but the direction the wind is now blowing will extinguish its candle in a quick puff if it does not move forward.
Can’t wait until gay Boy Scouts are grown and allowed to lead in the organization that they invested their time and trust in.