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:
— Longhouse Council (@CNYScouts) May 23, 2013
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 , 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.
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:
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:
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.