---- — The Boy Scout executive who elected to make this announcement on Friday, perhaps the busiest news day of what has been the busiest news week of the year, deserves a merit badge in public relations.
It is a page out of the White House playbook: When you have a difficult announcement to make, do it Friday. Competing with more sensational news will not overshadow it, but may diminish the impact.
The Boy Scouts of America announced that, at a meeting in Texas during the week of May 20, it would vote on rescinding its longstanding but controversial and divisive ban on openly gay Scouts.
American society has grown increasingly accepting of gays and the once-taboo prospect of gay marriage. The Scouts are no different.
Surveys show that those of Scouting age are either accepting or indifferent to the question of including gays; their parents less so; and their grandparents almost not at all.
The organization, smarting from recent revelations, would still ban gay Scout masters, ducking the fact that homosexuality is not the same as pedophilia.
The organization’s leaders face a challenging problem in public and private diplomacy.
Many of its troops are sponsored by conservative churches that consider homosexuality a sin and have threatened to sever ties with the organization if it accepts gay Scouts. On the other hand, civil-liberties groups have urged local governments to deny Scouts the use of municipal facilities because of their discriminatory policies.
Conservative groups have accused the Scouts of giving in to political correctness and urged like-minded groups not to support the organization.
Similarly, gay-rights groups and their sympathizers have urged supporters not to donate to the Scouts or sponsor troops because of the exclusionary policy. Indeed, they are angry that the new policy continues to exclude gays as Scout leaders.
The precise policy change is simple: No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America “on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.”
The Scouts have an opportunity to include a group of youngsters who have felt excluded, to right a longstanding wrong. The organization would be doing the right thing.
Dale McFeatters writes for the Scripps Howard News Service.