BSA’s community relations director all but comes out against group’s gay ban

Posted on 20 Feb 2013 at 10:42am
willieiles

Willie Iles Jr.

Willie Iles Jr., national director of government and community relations for the Boy Scouts, can’t officially give his opinion on the BSA’s ban on gays — even though community relations are apparently not going too well for the organization.

So at a dinner to raise money for three inner-city troops in Fort Worth, Iles didn’t give his opinion. But he came pretty close.

Columnist Bob Ray Sanders reported on the speech in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He said that Iles framed his speech in historical and biblical terms.

Iles said the Scouts were supposed to be “open to all boys” from the beginning but never were. Until desegregation, the BSA left it up to local councils whether troops would be integrated or separate.

Iles said that 1.4 million nonprofit, non-religious groups directly affect young people and only the Boy Scouts have a written policy that discriminates.

And he pointed out that 16,000 public school systems in the U.S. have lots of gay teachers, but parents don’t pull their children out of school. From the Star-Telegram:

Pointing out that there were 40 words in the Boy Scout Oath, Iles dramatically stopped after reciting only the first 14: “On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God. …”

He asked rhetorically, “What if I have four sons — Matthew, Mark, Luke and John? And Matthew is gay?” …

In an appeal to the faith-based community, he said Boy Scouts is the country’s largest outreach organization, adding, “We’re in the outreach industry, not a Bible study class.”

In February, the board of the Boy Scouts decided not to vote on changing the policy to allow local councils to decide whether to allow gays, just as the organization had done with racial discrimination. The board is made up largely of corporate executives who have LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination policies in their own companies.

The issue will be taken up in May and voted on by the BSA’s local councils. Only a small number of councils currently have nondiscrimination policies in defiance of the national organization.

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