3L Steve Budd, David Rosenblum, legal director of the Mazzoni Center for LGBT health and well-being and Ken Schultz, national field director of Scouts for Equality, an organization which aims to change the Boy Scouts of America's (BSA) anti-gay policy, gathered at the law school on April 10 to discuss the impact of BSA's decision to ban gays from its organization.
Budd, a lifelong scout member who has achieved eagle scout status, the organization's highest honor, said he could remember, at a very young age, incidents of discrimination. Budd recounted one incident where a competent and admired scout leader was removed from the troop due to his sexual orientation. Budd recalled thinking at the time that something was fundamentally wrong with such an action.
"For me the scouts were never ideological, it was about a family and a learning experience," Budd claimed. Exiling someone based on his sexual orientation really runs afoul the basic tenets of the BSA and sends the wrong message to impressionable young members of the organization who, in most cases, are not thinking about sexual orientation but rather the other valuable lessons to be learned from the scouts, Budd added.
Rosenblum agreed adding that, in the various court challenges involving the BSA gay ban, those opposed to the discriminatory policy argue that the BSA is sending the wrong message to kids. Attorneys opposed to the policy frequently cite documented adverse mental health impacts the BSA policy is having on its young members, Rosenblum said.
This issue is important because the BSA has such a huge membership and, thus, a pervasive influence over America's youth, Rosenblum claimed. The issue is not just about sexuality either, Rosenblum argued. At a young age children are just trying to figure out their place in the world and how to distinguish wrong from right, he said. Therefore, they should not be learning how to discriminate from an organization they look to for guidance, Rosenblum argued.
Schultz, who is also an eagle scout, agreed. "The BSA is too big to promote this kind of behavior," he said. Schultz, who recalled his boy scout experience as one of enormous personal growth and enrichment, worries that the BSA risks becoming irrelevant. By promoting anti-gay policies, it promotes a culture of exclusion and bullying and most parents, regardless of their views on sexual orientation, simply will not voluntarily put their children into that kind of environment, Schultz said. The BSA must change its policy or be prepared to face its eventual dissolution, Schultz concluded.
3L Todd Nothstein, co-president of Drexel OUTLaw, moderated the event.