The Herald of Everett, Washington
HeraldNet on Facebook HeraldNet on Twitter HeraldNet RSS feeds HeraldNet Pinterest HeraldNet Google Plus HeraldNet Youtube
HeraldNet Newsletters  Newsletters: Sign up | Manage  Green editions icon Green editions


HeraldNet Headlines
HeraldNet Newsletter Delivered to your inbox each week.
Published: Wednesday, February 6, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
In Our View: Addressing discrimination

A start for the Boy Scouts

Sometime today, the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) will vote to end its archaic policy prohibiting gay boys from becoming scouts, a national restriction that also bans gay and lesbian adults from serving in leadership roles. In part because of the BSA's diffusion of authority, with 300 self-supporting councils, the question whether or not to discriminate against adult leaders will fall to local scouting groups.
On a national level, the BSA's policy of optional discrimination is disappointing, if not untenable. Is anti-gay bigotry a character trait consistent with good scouting or no? Best intentions may inform the national decision, but it's just the first step. In a few years, Boy Scout execs will look back at the pick-your-own-values approach and cringe.
The systemic challenge for the BSA is the independent chartered organizations that sponsor each unit (the Cub Scout packs, the troops, exploring posts and venturing crews.) The chartered organizations include PTAs, VFWs, Lions and Rotary Clubs, church congregations and others. The organizational diversity reflects the American mosaic: Buddhists, Methodists, Muslims, Quakers, the Grange, hospitals and Indian Tribal Councils. Because sponsors are responsible for approving the appointment of all registered scout leaders, however, a few religious denominations are unwilling to accept gays and lesbians. It's another reason parents need to pick troops and posts that align with their values.
Northwesterners can be grateful for the farsighted leadership of the Mount Baker Council of the BSA and to the south, Chief Seattle. Both councils play a meaningful role in shaping the leadership and citizenship skills of thousands of young people. Boy Scouts from the Mount Baker Council explore sublime places like the North Cascades and, along the way, develop values of honesty, responsibility, charity and friendliness. Boy Scout merit badges test intellect and problem solving and often shape future careers. In the end, most boy scouts fall in love with the outdoors and work diligently to protect it. (Consider, for example, former Gov. Dan Evans, a lifelong conservationist.)
Local councils will, we believe, reflect the inclusive values of a state that voted for marriage equality. Boy Scouts should be emblematic of tolerance and plurality, defining characteristics of the Pacific Northwest. The BSA's policy shift may also encourage equality-minded Washingtonians to contribute again to the scouts. The watershed will be the day that the United Way of Snohomish County, which adopted a strict non-discrimination policy in 2000, approves a grant to the Mount Baker Council (the BSA hasn't received funding since 2001.) We are almost there.

Share your comments: Log in using your HeraldNet account or your Facebook, Twitter or Disqus profile. Comments that violate the rules are subject to removal. Please see our terms of use. Please note that you must verify your email address for your comments to appear.

You are logged in using your HeraldNet ID. Click here to update your profile. | Log out.

Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.

comments powered by Disqus
digital subscription promo

Subscribe now

Unlimited digital access starting at 99 cents, or included with any print subscription.


Herald Editorial Board

Jon Bauer, Opinion Editor:

Carol MacPherson, Editorial Writer:

Neal Pattison, Executive Editor:

Josh O'Connor, Publisher:

Have your say

Feel strongly about something? Share it with the community by writing a letter to the editor. Send letters by e-mail to, by fax to 425-339-3458 or mail to The Herald - Letters, P.O. Box 930, Everett, WA 98206. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We'll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 250 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it. If your letter is published, please wait 30 days before submitting another. Have a question about letters? Contact Carol MacPherson at or 425-339-3472.

HeraldNet highlights

Looking for a friend?
Looking for a friend?: Animals up for adoption at the Everett shelter (7 new photos)
A haircut for a dollar?
A haircut for a dollar?: At Everett barber school, it'll only cost you a hair
What's your number?
What's your number?: Find out what your Seahawks jersey says about you
Cooking for kickoff
Cooking for kickoff: Football-themed recipes for your Super Bowl crowd