Inclusion of Homosexuals Still an Issue

Public organizations required to include members of different sexual orientation, private groups are not

by Published: Feb 27, 2013

When lifestyle dif­fer­ences are scru­ti­nized, emo­tions can run ram­pant. But one stu­dent sees the dis­cus­sion of pri­vate insti­tu­tions and homo­sex­u­als as a pos­i­tive one.

“We are tak­ing a won­der­ful oppor­tu­nity to learn about diver­sity, explore peo­ple and real­ize that gen­der is a spec­trum and very few things are black and white. Gender and sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion is not one of those things,” Brooke Summers, Ferris junior in psy­chol­ogy, said.

Summers, who is an openly gay stu­dent at Ferris State University, por­trays this con­ver­sa­tion in a con­struc­tive man­ner, as it is pos­i­tive for all stu­dents regard­less of their sex­ual orientation.

“I would label it as a learn­ing expe­ri­ence we are tak­ing for granted. It is impos­si­ble to under­stand peo­ple if we don’t ask them about them­selves,” Summers said.

Currently, The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has a stand­ing pol­icy which excludes homo­sex­u­als from its ranks. This organization—which is funded from both cor­po­rate, reli­gious affil­i­a­tions and inter­nal rev­enue streams—has lost key dona­tions from con­trib­u­tors such as the United Parcel Service (UPS) and the United Way, stem­ming from pub­lic back­lash, accord­ing to GLAAD, a gay rights activist group.

Lost rev­enue could be a con­tribut­ing fac­tor in the poten­tial change in core beliefs.

“I think that the group still excludes homo­sex­u­als because they are founded on Christian beliefs and they get fund­ing from a lot of Christian groups. It is just eas­ier to make the group that is pay­ing for your func­tions happy,” Summers said.

Approximately three quar­ters of the group’s total mem­ber­ship has con­nec­tions with a reli­gious group, accord­ing to infor­ma­tion gath­ered from a 2011 BSA report.

The organization’s pol­icy was upheld by the United States Supreme Court in 2000, as the BSA’s view on homo­sex­u­al­ity is a part of its “expres­sive asso­ci­a­tional right,” accord­ing to court doc­u­ments pro­vided by Cornell University Law School.

A sin­gle Supreme Court Justice made the dif­fer­ence, as the rul­ing came from a close five to four votes decision.

Summers, who is an active mem­ber of Diverse Sexuality and Gender Alliance (D-SAGA), a student-run orga­ni­za­tion at Ferris, believes tra­di­tional views on sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion are dif­fi­cult to break. Her brother was a mem­ber of the orga­ni­za­tion who left after his per­sonal views were not con­gru­ent with the organization’s.

“My par­ents were uncom­fort­able when I first explained how I felt about join­ing the gay com­mu­nity. Now, because I try to edu­cate as many peo­ple as I can, they lis­ten and are at least tol­er­ant of what I have to say,” Summers said.

BSA explained that it needed to digest input from its mem­bers, and a vote should come in May of this year. From over a decade’s time, the orga­ni­za­tion has dropped its total mem­ber­ship of Boy Scouts by nearly 10 per­cent, accord­ing to the group’s annual report.

D-SAGA is open to all stu­dents regard­less of sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion, and the group holds its meet­ings in Rankin 125 on Wednesdays from 8–10 p.m.