Inclusion of homosexuals still an issue

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

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.