Regardless of the decision the Boy Scouts of America make in upcoming weeks, its ban on homosexuals will soon go away. It was discovered about a week ago that the group intended to discuss the possibility of lifting its ban on gay scouts and scout leaders, according to the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/09/us/boy-scouts-say-leak-undermined-plan-on-gay-ban.html). However, after much public speculation and commentary on the issue the group decided to delay its vote, presumably due to the fact that the public’s eye was focused squarely on them.
Whatever decision the governing body of the scouts issues though, it seems plenty clear by now that it wont be long before the group allows gay members and possibly leaders. A recent survey by The Huffington Post and YouGov showed public support for allowing gays in the Boy Scouts is 48 percent (49 percent amongst past members). Although not a majority, support is much more than opposition, which sits at 32 percent.
What I am trying to illustrate here is that the demographics of America have changed and there is much less ardent opposition to gays being allowed in the Scouts. Prominent social figures have recently played an important role in the gay rights issue. Although Hollywood has always been a place full of much more progressive views, celebrities have come forward to voice their support of gay rights. Rapper Frank Ocean recently announced his first love was another man. In the rap community, as well as the African-American one, this was somewhat of a bombshell. Sam Sanders of NPR wrote hip-hop is “a genre that, at times, seems to have homophobia in it’s DNA.” For an artist as prominent as Ocean to feel comfortable announcing he has had experiences with homosexuality suggests America could be undergoing a collective shift in its stance towards gays.
Obviously, Ocean’s case is not the only example of a prominent figure opening up about their sexuality. Something the Boy Scouts should take note of though is what Ocean’s story has become. He’s currently nominated for six Grammy awards including best new artist. With exceptions to stories like this one, Ocean’s sexuality isn’t the story anymore, his music is. If the Boy Scouts were to once and for all decide to allow gays in the group they could move past the issue with remarkable speed. In the age of 24 hour news, Americans have a remarkably short attention span. The Boy Scouts clearly don’t want to be the center of attention. By finally deciding to rid the group of the ban, it will no longer have to concern itself with being a major story every time the issue boils back up.
It should be taken as a sign that it are yet again having to review a decision it “confirmed” less than a year ago (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/18/us/boy-scouts-reaffirm-ban-on-gay-members.html?_r=0). If it does not lift the ban this week, then it will the next. It’s only a matter of time before the Boy Scouts allow gay members.