Thursday, August 9, 2012
NPQ's The Cohen Report

Dear Colleague,

In a rare show of presidential campaign bipartisanship, both President Obama, the current honorary president of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA), and Mitt Romney, a former member of the BSA’s national executive board, announced (or in Romney’s case, reaffirmed) their opposition to the BSA decision America to continue its ban on LGBT scouts and scout leaders. In May, Eagle Scout Zach Wahls delivered a petition at the BSA National Annual Meeting with 275,000 signatures calling for an end to the organization’s anti-gay policy. The 20-year-old Wahls is an Eagle Scout and the son of two gay moms. According to his Scouts for Equality website, more than 1,000 Eagles have signed the petition and 170 of the signers have renounced their Eagle.

Nonetheless, the Boy Scouts of America hasn’t budged, but reaffirmed its policy. At about the same time, we are learning of a chilling story on Boy Scout troopmasters and volunteers who have been charged with sexually abusing scouts. Some of those involved were transferred to other troops or rehired despite information in BSA files about the allegations. This has raised questions about what is going on at the BSA, with unfortunate parallels to the sexual abuse scandals of the Catholic Church (itself doggedly opposed to policies favoring equal rights for the LGBT community).

When we entrust our children to organizations such as the Boy Scouts or the Catholic Church, both of which wrap themselves in the garb of caring and concern, we would hope that they are able to police and purge their ranks for abusers and simultaneously stand up for ideals of inclusiveness and equality. In this Cohen Report, we offer our take on what might be done concerning organizations like the Boy Scouts.

We know that the opinions you get here in NPQ’s Cohen Report are sometimes a little more straightforward than you get in many journals unwilling to challenge powerful institutions. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But if the Cohen Report is important to you—or if Nonprofit Quarterly and its daily newswires (opinionated interpretations of the news of the social sector) are important to you—please donate to Nonprofit Quarterly here.

Stay in touch.

Rick Cohen

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