The Boy Scouts of America have taken the first of two steps required to lift the ban on GLBT scout leaders. Yesterday, 13 July 215, the BSA 17 member executive committee voted unanimously to approve a new policy to allow local troops and a troop’s sponsoring organization to approve GLBT adult leaders. The BSA National Executive Board meets 27 July 2015 and must ratify the executive committee’s action. It reportedly would be unprecedented for the board to veto a unanimous decision of the committee.
No adult applicant for registration as an employee or non-unit-serving volunteer, who otherwise meets the requirements of the Boy Scouts of America, may be denied registration on the basis of sexual orientation.
Through the years the BSA has lost sponsorship and many corporate dollars because of a policy that growing percentages of folks in the US have viewed as discriminatory, banning both the participation of GLBT scouts and adult leaders. The BSA removed the ban on GLBT youth in 2013, but the ban on GLBT adult participation remained. Former Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates was chosen to be President of the BSA in OCT 2013 and began serving his 2 year term in May 2014. Gates was instrumental in ending the US military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy which dates from the administration of former president Bill Clinton. Many, including the Scouts for Equality organization, saw Gates’ selection as president of the Boy Scouts as an opportunity to end the ban on GLBT adult leaders in the BSA. While addressing the BSA’s annual meeting in May of this year, Gate’s stated that the BSA’s ban on GLBT adult leaders was unsustainable. Gates is reported to have preferred that adults had been included when the BSA removed the ban on GLBT youth participation.
It’s reported that 70% of BSA units are sponsored by religious groups that are chartered to use the BSA’s intelectual property. The proposed new policy would allow sponsors of Boy Scout units to continue to select adult scout leaders based on their own criteria. Sponsoring organizations, such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is the largest faith-based sponsor of BSA units in the US, will be able to continue to approve only non-GLBT leaders for LDS dens, packs and troops. The LDS Church has stated that the ability to control who became adult leaders in LDS units was crucial to the Church remaining a part of the BSA.
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has always had the right to select Scout leaders who adhere to moral and religious principles that are consistent with our doctrines and beliefs,” the church said. “Any resolution adopted by the Boy Scouts of America regarding leadership in Scouting must continue to affirm that right.”
The LDS Church will not be alone in retaining the right to choose only non-GLBT adult leaders. Roman Catholics and Southern Baptists, as well as other religiously conservative churches will likely also continue the ban in locally sponsored BSA units.
Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout and the executive director of the group Scouts for Equality has pointed out that the new policy will not bring an immediate end to the institutional homophobia currently existing in the BSA.
“Doing away with the ban doesn’t do away with decades of homophobia that has infected BSA,” Wahl said. “We have to make sure they do what they say they’ll do, talk about anti-bullying — and not just among kids but adults.”
Wahls says that he looks forward to the day his organization is out of a job, no longer needed.
This story was gathered from the Huffington Post, the Desret News, the Stalt Lake Tribune and the Religion News Service.
Posted by David Allen.