Support the Café
Search our site

Boy Scouts lift ban on gay scouts

Boy Scouts lift ban on gay scouts

UPDATED:

The Boy Scouts of America, meeting in Grapevine TX passed a resolution 61%-38% to remove its ban on openly gay scouts that has been in place during the organization’s 103-year history. Gay leaders are still banned:

From Reuters:

The vote comes about three months after the organization’s leadership delayed a decision on changing its membership policy to research attitudes toward admitting gays.

The Boy Scouts’ long-standing ban has become increasingly polarizing as gay rights becomes a more prominent theme in U.S. political discourse. The U.S. military in 2011 dropped its ban on gay soldiers and 12 U.S. states now allow same-sex marriage.

LDS (Mormons) church responds here.

The Church’s long-established policy for participation in activities is stated in the basic instructional handbook used by lay leaders of the Church: “young men … who agree to abide by Church standards” are “welcomed warmly and encouraged to participate” (Handbook 2: Administering the Church [2010], 8.17.3). This policy applies to Church-sponsored Scout units. Sexual orientation has not previously been—and is not now—a disqualifying factor for boys who want to join Latter-day Saint Scout troops. (ed.bold) Willingness to abide by standards of behavior continues to be our compelling interest.

Washington Post reports.

Resolution below:

Membership Standards Resolution

WHEREAS, it is the mission of the Boy Scouts of America to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law:

Scout Oath

Scout Law

On my honor I will do my best

To do my duty to God and my country

And to obey the Scout Law;

To help other people at all times;

To keep myself physically strong,

Mentally awake, and morally straight.

A Scout is:

Trustworthy

Loyal

Helpful

Friendly

Courteous

Kind

Obedient

Cheerful

Thrifty

Brave

Clean

Reverent

AND WHEREAS, duty to God, duty to country, duty to others, and duty to oneself are each a core value and immutable tenet of the Boy Scouts of America; and

WHEREAS, the Scout Oath begins with duty to God and the Scout Law ends with a Scout’s obligation to be reverent, and that will always remain a core value of the Boy Scouts of America, and the values set forth in the Scout Oath and Law are fundamental to the BSA and central to teaching young people to make better choices over their lifetimes; and

WHEREAS, the vision of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare every eligible youth in America to become a responsible, participating citizen and leader who is guided by the Scout Oath and Scout Law; and

WHEREAS, for more than 103 years, programs of the Boy Scouts of America have been delivered to youth members through cooperation with chartered organizations that select adult leaders who meet the organization’s standards as well as the leadership standards of the Boy Scouts of America; and

WHEREAS, numerous independent experts have recognized that the programs protecting Scouts today, which include effective screening, education and training, and clear policies to protect youth and provide for their privacy, are among the best in the youth-serving community; and

WHEREAS, the current adult leadership standard of the Boy Scouts of America states:

The applicant must possess the moral, educational, and emotional qualities that the Boy Scouts of America deems necessary to afford positive leadership to youth. The applicant must also be the correct age, subscribe to the precepts of the Declaration of Religious Principle (duty to God), and abide by the Scout Oath and the Scout Law.

While the BSA does not proactively inquire about sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or members, we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA.

AND WHEREAS, Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether homosexual or heterosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting; and

WHEREAS, the Boy Scouts of America does not have an agenda on the matter of sexual orientation, and resolving this complex issue is not the role of the organization, nor may any member use Scouting to promote or advance any social or political position or agenda; and

WHEREAS, youth are still developing, learning about themselves and who they are, developing their sense of right and wrong, and understanding their duty to God to live a moral life; and

WHEREAS, America needs Scouting, and the organization’s policies must be based on what is in the best interest of its young people, and the organization will work to stay focused on that which unites us, and

WHEREAS, the Boy Scouts of America will maintain the current membership policy for all adult leaders of the Boy Scouts of America, and

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT:

The following membership standard for youth members of the Boy Scouts of America is hereby adopted and approved, effective Jan. 1, 2014:

Youth membership in the Boy Scouts of America is open to all youth who meet the specific membership requirements to join the Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, Sea Scout, and Venturing programs. Membership in any program of the Boy Scouts of America requires the youth member to (a) subscribe to and abide by the values expressed in the Scout Oath and Scout Law, (b) subscribe to and abide by the precepts of the Declaration of Religious Principle (duty to God), and (c) demonstrate behavior that exemplifies the highest level of good conduct and respect for others and is consistent at all times with the values expressed in the Scout Oath and Scout Law. No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.

Dislike (0)
0 0 vote
Article Rating
Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinmail

Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

6 Comments
Newest
Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Starkg

Walter Rotsch,

This scenario (gay scout with straight scout) already happens, but the gay scout is just closeted. Unfortunately, you are right that parents will have to be dealt with. As a former scout (I made it to life scout in the Venture program), I will say that this policy was what ultimately influenced my decision to leave. I felt unwelcome and uncomfortable with the threat of being stripped of eagle scout (which is why I didn't pursue it, partly).

I have a very close friend who did scouting in Germany, and for her it was co-ed. I hope when I have kids I can have them participate in a mixed-sex, gender-inclusive scouting program.

Gregory Stark

Like (0)
Dislike (0)
Murdoch Matthew

Early consensus is that the new Scout policy is a Bad Thing. It leaves in place the presumption that adult gay men are predators, and it brings young gay men into an organization with twisted values where they can be pressured to become more "morally straight" -- emphasis on "straight."

Michelangelo Signorile isn't impressed:

Continuing to ban lesbian den mothers and gay scoutmasters is sending a horrible message to American youth, including the scouts, gay and straight. The BSA made this change to take some of the heat off, and no matter what equality advocates hope for, that will happen. Some companies may come back as sponsors or will decide not to pull out. Some parents and young people who were uncomfortable may decide to stay now. Anti-gay religious leaders who blustered and threatened perhaps won't pull support and will grudgingly accept the change and fight hard to keep out gay adults. None of us knows how long this may drag on, and the scouts have shown enormous resilience in supporting discrimination.

Like (0)
Dislike (0)
Apps 55753818692 1675970731 F785b701a6d1b8c33f0408

As a gay man, I feel that JC Fisher is oversimplifying. The issue presented by Walter Rotsch WILL occur. Yes, more than likely, the scout himself won't have a problem with it. The parents, however, will. It's not right, but it is realistic. Sadly, bigots will use any excuse to be bigots.

The obvious solution is to assign each scout, regardless of sexual orientation, his own tent.

-Cullin R. Schooley

Like (0)
Dislike (0)
tgflux

You can’t put him with another straight scout, because you wouldn’t hear the end from that boy’s parents, and possibly run all the other scouts out of the troop.

You're assuming, Walter, that the straight scout is going to go running off to his parents "Oh noes, a gay scout in my tent!" {gasp} and his parents will react "Our Precious Boy sharing a nylon roof w/ a deeeeegenerate!" {pearl-clutch}

It's the FIRST reaction, that's extremely *unlikely* to happen. Random Boy Scout A: "You say Random Boy Scout B is gay?" {Yawn} Young people today overwhelmingly Do Not Care about someone's sexuality (or if they do, it's only to be *affirmative* about it. And affirming youth tend to sway parents into affirmation, too).

Quit living in the fears of the PAST, Walter. Your young men ALREADY KNOW gay people. They've dealt w/ it, and moved on. Why can't you?

JC Fisher

Like (0)
Dislike (0)
Walter Rotsch

First of all this was a watered down agenda by the new Nation Board President, Wayne Perry. Perry played on the out skirts of the Nation Board and when the opportunity arose, he grabbed the position of President. All of this was settled by the Supreme Court, and yet Perry resurrected to put this as his personal agenda.

Secondly, the volunteers in Three Rivers Council (where I am registered) were not represented. The delegates from this council were not selected by the volunteer but by the Council Board, an organization that no one in the Council even knows who on the Board. When I asked the Council Executive (Les Bentley, a paid Scouter) all he would tell me that the Three Rivers Council Delegate were the Council President, the Council Commissioner, and one other Board Member, NO NAMES. When I requested an open meeting with the delegates before the National Meeting, Bentley told me that I could submit any questions of concerns to him, and he would pass them on to the delegates. In talking with Scout volunteers in other Councils it’s the same way. Don’t accept my word for it, ask any Scout volunteer who the Council Board President, Commissioners, and members are, and chances are they cannot name more than one, if that even many.

The National Boy Scouts sent out a questionnaire to all adult volunteers with questions concerning this matter of membership. All respondents had the opportunity to comment on the questions and freely express their opinions. At the end of the questionnaire there was a block asking if we desired to be contacted by our local council concerning this matter. Both my wife (also a volunteer) and I checked yes. To date, NO ONE HAS CONTACTED US!!!

Now the burden comes down to the Scout Individual Leaders to implement this policy. As for Cub Scouts, and younger Boy Scouts, the issue should not even come up. They are too young to even understand sexuality in general, much less their own. The problem comes from the older Scouts, those 15-17 yrs. of age in the Boy Scout Program, and those 15-20 yrs. of age in the Venture Program.

Through my 35 years’ experience as an Adult Leader, I could write volumes on potential problems that could arise. Let’s just take one. Assume you are on a campout and one of your scouts is openly Gay, who are you going to tent him with? You can’t tent him by himself that would be discriminating. You can’t put him with another straight scout, because you wouldn’t hear the end from that boy’s parents, and possibly run all the other scouts out of the troop. Besides would that not be like permitting a Boy Scout and a Girl Scout tenting together? You also couldn’t put two gay scouts together, assuming you had two, because again that would be discriminating and facilitating at the same time.

If you want to blame the parents that would object to this situation above, remember these are deep rooted feeling among many people, and just because they think differently than you, it doesn’t make them evil or wrong. You must accept the fact that there are lots of parents that object to exposing their children to homosexuality.

As for me, I will continue to volunteer as a Scout Leader until such time as my troop is affected by this situation, or until the policy becomes such that I can no longer support the image of the Boy Scouts of America. It’s kind of like the English Reformation, when all the hierarchy kept getting their heads cut off every regime change, it was the local parish priest that held the church together….so will I do my best at the local unit level

I know some of you out there are waiting for my response to this…but let me say this, if you plan to ridicule me, call me to task, or call me names, I suggest you come up with a logical solution to the situation I mentioned above first, and then we’ll discus it. Otherwise, if you can’t you are being very hypocritical.

Like (0)
Dislike (0)
Facebooktwitterrss
Support the Café
Past Posts
2020_001

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café