America’s Attorney General Eric Holder has criticised the Boy Scouts’ continued refusal to allow openly gay scout leaders.
On Tuesday, speaking at an event hosted by Lambda Legal, Holder insisted that the Boy Scouts gay ban “perpetuates the worst kind of stereotypes” and that it is “a relic of an age of prejudice and insufficient understanding.”
Holder said that, “today, courageous lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals routinely put their lives on the line as members of America’s armed services.
“If these men and women are fit for military service, then surely they are fit to mentor, to teach, and to serve as role models for the leaders of future generations.”
The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) allowed gay youth to become Scouts for the first time in 103 years in January. However, it refused to end its ban on openly gay scout leaders.
In April, the BSA stripped a Seattle church of its license to host a Scout group because the church refused to fire an openly gay scoutmaster.
“The Boy Scouts’ discriminatory policy only serves to reinforce the horrible message LGBT youth hear every day: you’re not good enough,” commented Human Rights Campaign (HRC) president Chad Griffin. “The Boy Scouts believe that, once you turn 18, you should be banished from the proud tradition of Scouting if you’re gay.”
Because the BSA is a private organisation, the US courts have upheld its right to apply membership restrictions, even if these are discriminatory.