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Boy Scouts of America clarifies its membership policy

This morning, the Boy Scouts of America responded to media reports about its membership policy.

Follow the jump for the full text of the news release:


Contrary to media reports, the Boy Scouts of America has no plans to change its membership policy. The introduction of a resolution does not indicate the organization is “reviewing” a policy or signal a change in direction.

Resolution:

In April, a single individual submitted a resolution asking the Boy Scouts to consider amending its policy on not granting membership to open or avowed homosexuals. The resolution asked that the policy be amended to allow local units to determine their own standards.

Scouting’s voting members may submit resolutions, which represent that individual’s personal viewpoint, for consideration at the national annual business meeting. As directed by its bylaws, on May 31, the BSA assigned the resolution to a committee that will consider the resolution and present a report to the National Executive Board.

Resolutions and petitions on this subject are not unique and go back as far as 2000, when the U.S. Supreme Court reviewed this matter, and have been widely covered in the media since that time. In addition, in the past individuals have submitted resolutions asking the BSA to reaffirm its current policy. Those resolutions were handled in the same manner.

The introduction of a resolution is procedural and handled with respect but does not indicate the organization is “reviewing a policy” or signal a change in direction.

Petition:

Completely unrelated to the introduction of this resolution, on May 27, an online petition asked the Boy Scouts to meet with a spokesperson from the group circulating the petition and accept signatures generated from the online petition, which asked the BSA to change its policy.

While it was not on the Boy Scouts’ national business meeting agenda, out of courtesy and respect for differing viewpoints, the BSA accepted the petition during a private meeting. This meeting to accept the petition was not related in any way to the introduction of the resolution.

BSA Policy:

The BSA policy is: “While the BSA does not proactively inquire about the 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.”

Scouting believes same-sex attraction should be introduced and discussed outside of its program with parents, caregivers, or spiritual advisers, at the appropriate time and in the right setting. The vast majority of parents we serve value this right and do not sign their children up for Scouting for it to introduce or discuss, in any way, these topics.

The BSA is a voluntary, private organization that sets policies that are best for the organization. The BSA welcomes all who share its beliefs but does not criticize or condemn those who wish to follow a different path.

195 thoughts on “Boy Scouts of America clarifies its membership policy

  1. I am curious about people who think gays should be admitted. Just how many gay people will be joining Scouting? The reason I bring this up is that the public perception is that there is 25% of the population that is homosexual. But according to several articles like http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/05/americans-have-no-idea-how-few-gay-people-there-are/257753/
    The number of gays appears to be very small about 3.5%. Even if you doubled this because your feel that there may may under reporting were are talking about 7%. Now just from a business standpoint, if I want to expand my business does it make sense to go after the 93% or the 7% of the population? Clearly this issue is driven by a very small but very loud portion of the population.

    Gays in Boy Scouting doesn’t seem to make any business sense. Recruiting based on we let gay men take your boy out to the wilderness just doesn’t seem like a winning marketing strategy. Note: I am not implying anything sexual would happen on these outings.

    Girl Scout allow homosexuals but that has not increased the membership. In fact I hear this constant argument to allow Girl Scouts into Boy Scouts (Yes I am fully aware girls are allowed in venturing) as a way to grow the organization. Instead of the Girl Scouts fixing their organization. Hasn’t this been done with the Boys & Girls Club? How are they doing?

    Just wondering.

  2. From the rants of a “Conservative, Catholic, African-American Scouter with military service” (now doesn’t it sound crazy to label ourselves, or hyphenate our heritage):

    I can tolerate or empathize, but do not have to accept the homosexual lifestyle. That is my choice, not yours. Some of you would call me a bigot, I don’t care! If you need help, I will help you. Even if you are gay, it doesn’t matter… I have homosexual friends, it’s ok. They are good people that understand my beliefs and tolerate me.

    The BSA has the right to set membership requirements as a private organization. We raise young men to be great leaders. They can take what they have learned in scouting and strive to be all that they can be. Discernment is at the core of their upbringing. They will decide for themselves what they believe and not follow the rest of the “sheep”. That’s what we want for children, isn’t it?

    I know this will not be a popular statement, homosexuality is not normal. Does anyone trully believe that there can be two “norms” that exist in humanity? If homosexuality is ‘normal’; what does that make the other 97%, abnormal? Can you change the laws of nature?

    Can a homosexual be a good leader? YES, they can! Can they be around young kids and not be sexually attracted to them? YES, they can! Can they be in the BSA, NO they cannot! There are many other organizations that will embrace their membership. BSA IS NOT SUCH AN ORGANIZATION!!!

    For those that want to equate this with the Civils Rights movement, homosexuality is a choice. Skin color, ethnicity, and age are not!

    If you don’t like the policies of a private organization, find another organization. For those that want their children to be a part of a great youth program, should not try to weaken the policies that made it great!

    I am sorry if I have offended anyone, because that is how I was raised. But you will not coercse me into accepting what I believe to be wrong, I will ‘tolerate’ your opinion.

    Feel free to ‘flame’ me if you must, it’s your free speech…

    YIS,
    past, present, and future

    • You really want to exclude anyone who is “not normal”? My son, an epileptic, can no longer be a member. Kids with ADHD may no longer join. How about the kids with autism — they’re scary. The boy with Tourette’s involuntarily mouths obscenities. All these boys are forced to live a form of alternate lifestyle. You would not allow them to participate?

      • If your son is a homosexual, sex offender, drug dealer, athiest or pedifile yes I would not allow them in scouting. Since there are different requirements to allow boys with physical abnormalities and handicaps to participate, don’t show ignorance and stupidity to try and justify political correctness. Now go do the right thing.

  3. D.K. – It is not the small percentage of the population that is homosexual that is the issue. It is the 40% of the population that think it is wrong to discriminate based on sexual orintation. They think that the boys scouts teach bigotry. That is far from the case but the negative press give all of those parents that impression . So they wont send thier boys because of one policy. So theBSA are limiting the number of boys we can reach quite signficantly. As for Girl Scouts, they have gone way off the chart on what they are promoting. The BSA has suffered greatly because of this policy. We are losing lots kids(not from homsexual families) along with locations for the packs to meet. And not to metion a ton of corporate funding and huge legal fees defending thier rights on this issue. I admire them for not folding under the pressure of the two big political lobbists groups. I think leaving the choice up to the CO maybe a better way to go.

  4. The following excerpts from the Scout Law are part of the code which is universal to Scouting. It is our code of ethics. These are not my words — these are the words of individuals much wiser than myself. No more comment should be needed.

    “A Scout is a friend to all. He is a brother to other Scouts. He offers his friendship to people of all races and nations, and respects them even if their beliefs and customs are different from his own.”
    “He treats others as he wants to be treated.”
    “A Scout follows the rules of his family, school, and troop. He obeys the laws of his community and country. If he thinks these rules and laws are unfair, he tries to have them changed in an orderly manner rather than disobeying them.”
    “He has the courage to stand for what he thinks is right even if others laugh at him or threaten him.”
    “He respects the beliefs of others.”

    • A Scout can respect, be a friend, be a brother, treat fairly, and do all these other things WITHOUT embracing the qualities that are not conducive to the rules and policies set forth.

      As an LDS Scouter in a non-LDS unit and District, I serve with many youth and adults who don’t abide by the rules of my faith. I know many leaders who drink, smoke, and have different morals than I do. I choose them as friends regardless of these differences. They are fully accepted as Scouters by BSA because they follow the rules and guidelines set forth. They do the same with me for the same reasons.

      We can be a friend to all without embracing the qualities we disagree with. Goes along with that line from another well known book that many of us follow… “Love the sinner, not the sin.” BSA’s policy is very well defined and not hidden from view. If one chooses to steer their ship towards the rocks when the rocks are clearly visible, one should not be surprised when their ship gets damaged/destroyed on the rocks.

      • A policy that can not be changed is worthless. Policies are established as a rule or guideline until they are reviewed and updated to fit current standards, practices, and methods. For example, there are a number of policies set forth by the GtSS. Should this be a document that becomes frozen in time?

        Secondly, it seems to me as if you are saying, “Scouts and Scouters who do not follow my beliefs are fine…unless they are gay.” I’d welcome you to say or clarify otherwise if I’m misinterpreting your stance. I am not trying to be inflammatory here, but that is how I’m reading your statements. Yes, I understand you are saying that those particular problems you see in other adults don’t specifically call for removal from a Charter. It appears you’re hiding both behind a veil of anonymity while saying I’m happy hiding behind this rule because it doesn’t fit my world view either due to religious and/or personal beliefs.

        The argument I want to make is that it is time to review this policy. I think the world has moved on, and we’re a bit stuck in a rut over this. I don’t actually expect this policy to change at this time, for a host of reasons (least of all I think the resolution has a problem or two with it). I do think though that a frank and open discourse on the topic is more than timely.

        I also believe in my heart that if we are to have a discussion on this, youth must be involved. We are here to serve them, and I think that their opinions in this matter (and may surprise more than a few adults – including me).

        (I’m not focusing on the LDS on this, I’m focusing on your beliefs.)

        • Okay, I’ll try to be more clear. The policy is in place. If folks want the policy changed, fine, but go about it the right way. If you know that your behavior/lifestyle is contrary to the policies of the organization, don’t join and then proclaim outrage when you are asked to leave because you don’t comply. Get the change done first. This applies to LGBTs, child predators, or anybody else that are CLEARLY excluded from the BSA.

          “Scouts and Scouters who do not follow my beliefs are fine…unless they are gay.” Fair statement, because there are not supposed to be any Scout leaders who are gay. That is the rule, right? If the Scout leader is gay, then they are standing in violation of the policy. So I suppose, yes, I’m happy “hiding” behind this rule because it is the rule. I support the rule so long as it applies. If it gets changed, then I’ll have to decide if I’m willing to support the organization with LGBT leadership, just like every other Scouter out there, LDS or not. If I agree with it, then I’ll support it wholeheartedly. If not, then I’ll hang up my uniform and leave the organization I can no longer support. Either way, I won’t try to undermine the rules through trickery and deceit.

          Review the rule. Scouting has more than just the LDS community supporting it, and the LDS folks aren’t the only ones who may balk at LGBT leadership in the units. BSA leadership will have to decide what the impact of revoking this rule will have on the membership levels and if it is someplace they wish to go.

          As for the youth participation in the discussion… Really? At what age level are you thinking? Most kids probably don’t even care who their leader is, so in that regards the scale would be heavily tipped towards the “I don’t care” level. These issues won’t even come into the mental processes for these kids until they hit high school, and by then many of them are gone from Scouting. Sorry, but this is an adult-level discussion requiring adult-level thought processes.

          A Scout is Friendly and respects others. A Scout is also “morally straight”. Once we figure out what that means, maybe then we’ll be able to figure out the whole issue of whether BSA should allow for LGBT leadership in the units.

        • As to going about it the right way, they are following procedure and requesting a resolution be reviewed by a committee. I’m suggesting that a decision of this magnitude should be owned by more than just the committee and the voting members of the governing body involved. That’s it. I want a seat at the table or I want a chance to speak with those at the table before piece of legislation is voted on.
          ___________________

          Regarding involvement of the youth in the process, I’ll try to better explain my position.

          If you’ll scroll way back up, you’ll find another post by me where I’m stating that a Tiger Cub is only interested in Pokemon and knot tying.

          So in this case, I’m definitely talking about older Boy Scouts and Venturers (who the system considers to be youth until 21, but the rest of the world is recognizing them as adults at 18). Is there one method (polling, surveying, focus groups or other) that would serve everyone and offer the best answer? Probably not. But I would rather see the effort made on this discussion to include some of the more mature of our youth in this decision making process.

          Kids learn by doing. Invite them to participate in a process, explaining that we need help figuring out a complicated problem. Selection could be by District Executives or Scout Executives for instance and would require contacting the parent first. Gather the kids selected into a focus group or send out a survey. Explain who, what, and how of the situation. Then give them several options for solving it, ignoring it, or even allow them to offer their own interpretation.

          It takes generations to change the way people see ‘special interest groups’ – I’m using this as an all inclusive catch-all, apologies to anyone whom I may offend. Change in beliefs start young though. As we are a service organization whose primary task is to raise children in a moral and ethical standard, should not those self-same children have an opportunity to have some input into the policy that affects them and those to come after them?

          The Scout Law, all 12 points of it, will be around for a long time to come. But I find it interesting the answers I get from Eagle Candidates when this question is asked at their Eagle Board. “If you could remove one point from the Scout Law, which point would it be?” They get excited. They think. They argue. And they offer an insight into this program that we don’t always understand until it is shown to us by the youth. I’m saying harness some of this towards a situation that does affect them. That I’m sure MANY have an opinion on – good, bad, and indifferent.

          We’ll probably disagree on this point. I think though that kids are smarter than we give them credit. They should have a voice, and if not, then they should have a chance to express an opinion or two regarding this process.

  5. It seems to me that it should be sufficient that sexual orientation should not be discussed in Scouting. There should be no discussion of either heterosexuality or homosexuality. This question should be addressed in the family and with spiritual advisors. In a Scouting context it is not acceptable for this question to come up.

    • That’s fine. Except that BSA’s right to exclude gays from membership is based on BSA’s assertion that it has an expressed message regarding homosexuality. If sexual orientation is not discussed in Scouting, BSA has no legal basis to ban gays from membership. Read BSA vs. Dale for the details.

    • Seriously… I find it just a little scary that anyone would organize such a petition and even more scary that anyone associated with scouting would sign it. If homosexual scouts and scouters concern you, make sure that you never go to a world jamboree. Canada, Australia and most European scouting organizations have moved away from discriminating against members of the LGBT community.

        • WOW – That is scary. Why is it that you find the sexual choices of others so worrying? I think that judgmentallism and an inability to love others regardless of who they are is far more scary. Go back 50 years and I’m sure you would find frighteningly similar arguments going on about whether scout troops should remain racially segregated. Such arguments today would be considered as bigoted as I consider the idea that someone should be denied the benefits of scouting on the basis of their sexual orientation; or moreover, that their sexual orientation correlates in any way with their ability to be a good scout or scouter.

        • Homosexuals have been led to believe that it is OK to act on their deviate sexual feelings rather than to find ways to correct the hormonal imbalance they were either born with or have developed. I would have no problem putting someone in a leadership role who recognizes this. But those who choose to promote deviate sexual behavior have no place in a leadership role with our children. There are people who think it’s OK to have sex with children. There are also people who think it’s OK to have sex with animals. I would not want them to be in a leadership role with our children either. We could say that anyone with deviate behavior has no choice in the matter, but fortunately most of us still agree that these behaviors are immoral and ones that should be modified or treated if possible. Discrimination is not always a bad thing.

  6. It is time to stop this nonsence. The BSA has been and will always be a morally straight organization period. You doom and gloomers need to support the current position of the Boy Scouts of America and abstain from comments like the BSA will cater to the politically correct and allow homosexuals in its leadership roles. I will predict that if a homosexual leader is ever allowed to be part of the BSA program their will be a flood of scouts, leaders and parents in droves leaving the BSA program. Homosexuality is in direct conflict with the moral values of the BSA. There is a saying on BSA bumper stickers [ America is Returning to the Values the BSA Never Left ] I support this mandate and even after many years in the BSA program I would be the first in line to leave the BSA and form another program. Sincerely,
    Trenton Spears, Scoutmaster
    A scout since 1949 and still going.

    • Sounds like your values are firm placed in 1949, a time when BSA values on race reflected those of the public majority and offered segregated programs. If this can change, why can’t our attitudes towards sexual orientation?

      • Gentlemen,

        I’m not a moderator, nor am I Bryan, however I AM an Eagle Scout, a former long-serving Scoutmaster, Troop Committee Member, Roundtable Staffer and current Cub Pack Committee Member and (most importantly) Tiger and Wolf Cub dad.

        And with my 30+ years of Scouting, I’ll simply remind you, particularly the group commenting the last couple of days — this blog, and this topic — are the perfect place to take a deep breath and think twice before pushing the send button.

        Personal insults, and overly rancorous posts have no place in this discussion. It may not be possible to win an arguement on this particular topic, but it IS possible to draw.

        However, some of these posts are crossing from “Agree to disagree” in to needless name calling.

        • Patrick Provert Thank you for your service to the BSA it requires a lot of sacrifice to be an effective leader. My role as a Scout leader has given me more than words I can express of the great satisfaction that I have recieved from Scouting. I have been a Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Den Leader, Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, Roundtable Commissioner, Woodbadge Beaded Participant, Trainer and Troop Guide, Silver Beaver recipient, Scoutmaster for the 2010 National Jamboree and served these positions according to the Scout Oath and the Scout law I have always believed that you must always stand for something and be willing to be a voice against anything that might harm an organization that you believe in. This forum has had a few negative comments along with many very positive comments. I hope that my comments have been above the role of name calling and have expressed the values of the BSA Program. Sincerely, Trenton Spears

      • Orange- Cat When I was a boy Scout in 1949 My Troop had many different ethnic scouts We had 8 Chinese, 4 Japanese, 3 hispanics, and 3 blacks and 2 whites me and my brother Travis with a Japanese Scoutmaster there was no segregation, no discrimination and we got along very well so I am well vetted as to the true facts. Please don’t guess about the BSA policies and traditions from an earlier time if you were not there you don’t know. It was because of those early BSA influences that I am still in the BSA program. It will be the allowing of Homosexual leaders in the BSA program that will force me to leave the program. Sincerely, Trenton Spears

        • Don’t know how many times I or others have to say this to you and some others, Trenton…pack your bags if you truly feel the way you’ve been posting.

          The BSA, since the early 30s, have had homosexual leaders in their programs. Since the early 50s, have had lesbian leaders in their programs. Since the early 60s, have had homosexual and/or lesbian professionals in our programs. Fact. Not “guessing”.

          The point was that those individuals understood their role as volunteers or professionals were predicated upon their BEHAVIOR toward other adults and especially toward youth. In the 80s, the BSA openly addressed this issue after several cases of molestation occured. We realized two trends from those cases: one, the failure of chartered organizations and supporting organizations to turn away those individuals wanting to use the BSA as their own “pickup bar” or “free for all”; and two, the failure of the BSA for not educating the public, and present and potential members that such behavior is not accepted, not wanted, not even in that “maybe it’s okay if everyone says it’s okay” box.

          We don’t condone such behavior among men, women and youth involved in our programs. Period.

          Somehow, people like you have twisted this around and that’s why the BSA is in the “trick” we are in presently. You and others cannot distinguish between “acceptable and unacceptable BEHAVIOR” and “sexual preference, something individual and not a part or component of Scouting”.

          That’s what the BSA is hoping to fix, once and for all. Whatever the policy will be — and I’m not a part of the group advocating one way or another, just a Scouter who understands what I swore by when as a Scout I took up the Scout Oath and Law as part of my morals — the policy will be a positive reflection on the BSA’s values, the values of individuals, and the values of living in a multiculural, multiethnic, multipreference American society.
          If you must leave, thank you very much for your service. Myself — I’m staying no matter what the BSA decides. Because the BSA — is you and me, not a bunch of “uniforms” and “suits” in a three-story office building between Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas. WE decide how the BSA will move forward…and like we teach our youth, we may not like it but we will follow it while finding ways to make the decision better.

      • Racism is wrong and needed correction. Excluding those who promote deviate sexual behavior is not wrong and doesn’t need to be corrected.

        • Discrimination in any form is WRONG. Any time you take one aspect of an individual’s life and use it to make broad sweeping assumptions about them it is WRONG. How would you feel if it was decided that you were unfit for membership in scouting because of your religious background leading you to have beliefs about homosexuality that are increasingly incompatible with American values?

        • America was founded on moral beliefs. Many have been misled over the decades, but a strong return to good moral values is on the rise. As long as I’m on the side of God, I have nothing to worry about. He will forgive those who ask for it and follow Him.

  7. Mike Walton Your comments are as clear as mud I have been in Scouting for many years since 1949 to the present and associated with many Scout organizations and not once did I see any Homosexuals in the BSA program I can say without any reservations that the BSA has never openly approved of a Homosexual Leader to register as a Scout Leader. If Homosexuals joined the program it would be under false circumstances and someone turned their head and covered up their Homosexuality. If the BSA allowed Homosexuals to be leaders in the past don’t you think that the Surpeme Court would have ruled in favor of allowing and force the BSA to allow Homosexuals in the program have you not heard of prescedence that have had a impact on many court cases and policies. Have you not heard that the National BSA has made a comment that no homosexuals will be allowed to be in the program this came out around June , 2012 or so. If you do not believe this call the BSA and they will tell you the lastest news. I can without reservations state that no matter how much you try to protect or premote homosexuality I will not be the only one packing my bags and leaving the BSA program. Sincerely, Trenton Spears

    • Trenton:

      I was at the BSA’s National Meeting in June 2012 when the resolution was presented. I was sitting two rows in from of the Scouter from the local Council in Rhode Island who presented the resolution for me and other National Council members to act upon. The BSA’s leadership correctly sent the resolution to a committee of eight volunteers and two professionals making up our Relationship and Memberships Task Force to work through the resolution and make appropriate recommendations to come before the BSA’s National Executive Board and the National Council *next spring* (the spring of 2013) during the BSA’s National Meeting in Grapevine, Texas.

      In the meantime, as the top of this discussion stated, the policy of the BSA will remain as it is. I don’t have a problem with that, as this has been the policy of the BSA since after the turn of the century, and it is inclusive in nature if one will look at the policy.

      We in the BSA always looked at BEHAVIOR rather than orientation in the selection of our adult volunteers and recruitment of youth members. As I stated earlier, we are not in the sex ed business and don’t go around asking people before they are handed an application “You’re not *gay or lesbian* are you?” We let individuals determine whether or not their behavior will be in line with the BSA’s policy — whether they are straight or gay. And yes, the policy applies to “straight” people as well. You come on to my daughter during a Venturing event, whether you’re a straight male or a lesbian female, and you’re history with the BSA.

      As it SHOULD BE.

      I am not promoting anything except tolerance, respect and a behavior-standard which the BSA has also does. As I stated earlier, I am not a part of the BSA’s national staff or an employee. I am like many of you — a volunteer in a proud program with challenges.

      Finally, I’m repeating myself but it does bear repeating: the BSA does not care if if a person is gay or lesbian or straight. We don’t ask such questions and with regard to employment, it is against federal law to do so. We do ask if you are willing to abide by the ideals of Scouting. NONE of those ideals say “you must be straight”. They do say that you should be guided by your own moral compass — that idea of being “morally straight”. Our ideals also say that one must be tolerant and understanding of all — especially those who do not share your opinion, feelings or point of view. If adults are willing to put aside their “personal agendas” and concentrate on the task at hand — developing youth along lines of citizenship, personal character and physical and mental fitness — we want you around our youth. We don’t care what you do with others away from our youth — and you probably don’t care what we do when we’re away from you and our youth either. Scouting’s not a sex-ed lab nor is it our place to “educate” youth and/or adults on anything having to do with sex or sexuality.

      Sorry you’re having a tough time understanding all of this. There’s others here who clearly can read and understand — they may not like it — but we as a nation, as I’ve stated, have grown up. We are no longer where we were as a nation back in the 80s, or even the 90s. We’re a long way past those decades — and as we face what’s ahead — whatever it may be — know that the BSA will once again reflect American social and historical values in a way which also remains attractive to parents and youth all over our nation.

      • Mike Walton After all theses discussions we are still faced with the problem of protecting the policies of the BSA with strong leadership to produced strong Scouts. The majority of Scout leaders are voluntary and we are losing more volunteers and Scout Troops every year. Three years ago we had 14 full time employees in our Local Council we had a change in our Council Executive and he had reduced the full time to just 5 employees because of the loss of Scout Troops and Cub Packs in our area a lot due to the policies of the Schools in recruiting opportunities that have changed the last few years because of the homosexual agenda that has put more pressures on the BSA. Mike we were close to having to join another Council in another County. The pressures that are placed upon these couragous leaders are growing everyday. I work with many female Scout leaders and they certaintly have made a tremendous improvement in the BSA. Some of them are Scoutmasters and are very good at working with boys or girls and are highly respected by their male counterparts and their local Council. Having said that the women scout leaders I know are not comfortable along with the male leaders with the ideal of homosexual leaders in the BSA and it is the majority in our area. In fact I have never talked with anyone that is supportive of homosexual leaders. On the subject of having a change in allowing girls in the regular BSA units it would not be helpful to the ability of the staff to maintain moral values in the program in traditional BSA . I have participated in many Scout Camps and have seen problems in the mixed gender even in the Venturing program. Those Scouts were sent home because of inappropiate behavior that are against the values of the BSA. Mike on the issue of trying to paint a rosy picture is that it does not always reveal the truth and those who try try to influence for change can be misleading and in many case’s reality eventually sets in. Hopefully this will not be the case and the BSA at the next meeting will sustain its current policy of no Homosexual Leaders in the program. I believe that we must respect the hard work of the Volunteer Leaders and reduce rather than add to the pressures they face with changes they cannot live with. Respectively, Trenton Spears

        • Trenton:

          While you’re losing volunteers and youth, there are areas in the nation which have been gaining youth and volunteers.

          You wrote in part: “The majority of Scout leaders are voluntary and we are losing more volunteers and Scout Troops every year.” While you’re losing volunteers and youth, there are areas in the nation which have been gaining youth and volunteers.
          They are gaining youth and volunteers because of policies enacted at the local Council level similar to the policy used by the
          Northern Star and several other local Councils. Those policies emphasize that we (the BSA) won’t put up with crap when it comes to adult volunteers and youth membership. You come to Scouting because you want to contribute to the development of youth along citizenship, character and personal and mental fitness lines — not so you can “pick up a mate or date”. Not so you can “tell other people how you really feel” about something –positively or negatively. Not so you can be able to “make a personal statement”. The BSA — those Councils — those units — those parents — don’t care about any of that.

          Whether you’re straight or gay or bisexual, we don’t care. What we DO CARE about is whether or not you are willing to help teach and coach youth in our Scouting programs the way that the BSA has been teaching and coaching youth for decades (with some updates because the world has changed significantly and we’ve all grown up).

          And those Councils are experiencing GROWTH, not decline. And those units are experiencing GROWTH, not decline. Because they’ve got youth in the program who want to be there to do things, learn things, go places and do all of this as safely as the envirornment can allow them to do so. Because they’ve got adults who are laser-beamed serious about what’s best for the youth and not what “we can show them about the real world”. It’s not about them — its about the youth.

          You also wrote in part: “Three years ago we had 14 full time employees in our Local Council we had a change in our Council Executive and he had reduced the full time to just 5 employees because of the loss of Scout Troops and Cub Packs in our area a lot due to the policies of the Schools in recruiting opportunities that have changed the last few years because of the homosexual agenda that has put more pressures on the BSA.”

          He had a loss in Scout Troops and Cub Packs because volunteers, not the professionals, have let their fellow volunteers down.
          So when you have a loss of units, you have to reduce the professional support — after all, do *you* want to pay for services that are not being used? He made a good choice, although in slimming down, I’m sure that your Council experiences declines in other areas too. Bottom line: Your Council’s volunteers are tired and stopped working — they have no focus and no encouragement from each other. You cannot “blame” this on the “homosexual agenda” nor more than some Southern local Councils can “blame” this on the fact that there’s a lot more “blacks and latinos around and we don’t know how to talk to them.”

          As a 14 year old kid, Trenton, with only coaching over McFood two weeks prior by my District’s Executive (now a retired newspaper publisher), I went door-to-door-to-door in my community. I recruited a Scoutmaster, three Assistant Scoutmasters, four Committee members, and eleven boys to join a brand new Troop I organized. It took me A MONTH to do this, every day, after school and before dinner, hitting a lot of doors and being told to get away and had dogs barking at me, and people offering to give me money instead of their time. But I did it. My District Executive found a chartered partner who wanted a Scout Troop
          and we met and Troop 801 –the Troop in which I became its second Eagle Scout in — was started.

          Some of those people were probably gay. I didn’t care. We had a previous Scoutmaster — before I gave up on Scouting for a brief bit — to run off with the money we raised for summer camp — a couple thousand dollars (really big money back then in the 70s). As the image demonstrates, I’m NOT of the “majority color”, something not lost on me as I went around trying to get what I knew kids in my part of town needed. But I did it. And later as an adult, I started teaching other adults how to do the exact same thing with the same — or better — results.

          The point I’m making here, Trenton, is that people make a LOT of excuses why Scouting is the way it is today — and when I hear them trying to make it out that “oh all of those people are making it hard for us to be Scouts…” I shake my head and simply tell them the truth:

          “You are not committed enough. Come back when you’re committed to the goal — bettering kids. Not yourself We’ll talk then.”

          You also stated: “The pressures that are placed upon these couragous leaders are growing everyday. I work with many female Scout leaders and they certaintly have made a tremendous improvement in the BSA. Some of them are Scoutmasters and are very good at working with boys or girls and are highly respected by their male counterparts and their local Council. Having said that the women scout leaders I know are not comfortable along with the male leaders with the ideal of homosexual leaders in the BSA and it is the majority in our area. In fact I have never talked with anyone that is supportive of homosexual leaders.”

          The fact of the matter, Trenton, is that you are probably surrounded by gay, lesbian or bisexual adults, whether they are parents or volunteers — and you’ll never know it. It’s not important to them if people know they are gay or lesbian or bisexual. Big whoop. They aren’t going to teach anything to Scouts about their sexuality — no reason and not allowed. They aren’t going to be emphasizing gay rights agenda items — they may want to, but they know the rules. No openly gay or lesbians can be BSA volunteers.

          The issue we’ve been discussing is the *possibility* that a chartered organization — a church, a school, a business — can say to potential volunteers “look, we know you’re gay. You know you’re gay. We need volunteers and you need a place to become more civic-minded. We’ll accept you as long as you know that the BSA is a program of behaviors. Act inapproviately to OUR standards, and you’re outta here. Sign here please.” The BSA’s not in this…the person is being “vetted” and “hired” by the chartered organization. Don’t like the make up of that chartered organization? Go to a chartered partner’s unit with “make up” like yours. The LDS and Southern Baptists have been doing this for decades; and before that, the Catholics. No big “blow out” there, Trenton — just a fact. You can’t be a part of a LDS unit unless the Church approves your leadership application. And that’s well before the BSA gets it.

          In other words, accountability at the SOURCE: the chartered partner organization, the group which OWNS the Pack, Troop, Crew, Ship or Team.

          That is what the BSA will be looking at. How to make this work across the board, both genders, all social economic strata, all races, creeds and yeah, sexual orientations — all of those elements that the BSA DOES NOT ASK FOR when an adult submits a volunteer application along with the Youth Protection certificate and some money.

          You also commented that you’re close to joining another Council. Good luck with that. Unless the Council you’re a part of will be consolidating or merging with the other Council — or you’ve got permission from the other Council’s Scout Executive to do so — your advancement and registration will still be in effect with the Council you’re registered in now…

          …unless you choose to ignore “A Scout is Trustworthy” and attempt to “pull a fast one” on the Council you’re a part of now by giving them another mailing address and phone number placing you in that other Council. Not very Loyal nor Brave either, I would say….

          Finally, you wrote in part:

          “Mike on the issue of trying to paint a rosy picture is that it does not always reveal the truth and those who try try to influence for change can be misleading and in many case’s reality eventually sets in.”

          The “rosy picture” will only come as a result of volunteers looking at the program as it is truly intended to be: a program for youth development, not “personal development or self-promotion” of the adults involved. Change will have to come eventually to the BSA — the true, key question is will you and others be a part of helping to make the change work best for the organizations using Scouting or not.

          My lot in life is to continue to support Scouting — the program, the movement, despite who’s in the program. Even if it becomes nothing more than the “white boys’ camping club”. Scouting is Scouting.

        • Mike,

          I loved your comment about “not being able to talk to . . .” and then a list of folks “different” than me. Sadly, we CAN’T talk to the Latinos, at least not as well as we should. However . . . I notice that the Philmont Training Center has a Spanish Language Woodbadge course this summer. Better late than never.

          And as far as other racial issues, the best example I ever saw of the equalizing power of Scouting was my course in 1994 at the PTC — we started Monday morning missing one student, because his flight was delayed and he missed a connection. He walked in about 2 hours late, and it was then I realized that prior to his arrival every single soul in the room was white. Our new friend Deion, Scoutmaster of a troop chartered to the Chicago Housing Authority, sized up all the white faces looking his way . . . grinned a huge grin and said “Well, you all aren’t what I was expecting either” Of course it didn’t hurt that he was an Eagle Scout wearing a set of three Wood Badge Beads.

          We’re making progress on the race issue. My sons are a new Tiger and a just-crossed-over into Wolf. Neither of them is particularly mindful of the skin color of anyone in the Pack (or their school for that matter) — the primary description we got of my older son’s best friend last year in first grade was “He wears a blue coat.” (He turned out to be Korean, by the way. Not even “Korean-American,” but the child of two physicians here with Green Cards)

          To tie this back into the original issue, none of the actions of the Asian member of our Pack Committee, or the Hispanic Bear Den Leader, or my son’s African-American Tiger Den Leader last year would have been different in the slightest had you switched the color of their skin or the content of their accent. (For that matter, I’ve got almost 20 years in as a Scouter, and I have no doubt at all that I could not have led the Tiger Den half as well as our rookie Den Leader — his temprement goes well with young boys, mine doesn’t)

          The issue of homosexual leaders will continue to be a problem until society at large gets to the point where no one fears that a homosexual leader will lead any diffierently than a heterosexual one.

    • A simple question. What if you found out a favorite nephew or niece was gay? Or your own brother or sister? Would you banish them from the family? Would you end a 40- or 50-year friendship with a childhood buddy over your beliefs? They are still the same people they always were.

      • Jim Kangas I have homosexuals in my family and it has never become a problem with our relationship I love them just the same and we gather as a family frequently. I would never end a relationship with anyone based on their choices as long as they don’t try to force their choices on me. I respect a person right to chose the life they want to live it is their own personal business however I believe that if a private organization wants to exclude leaders that could be harmful to the ideals of that organization the people should respect those ideals. There are other ways to form their own organization private or otherwise. Sincerely, Trenton Spears

  8. Any debate or conversation about homosexuality in BSA, including singling out gays who are currently contributing to Scouting without bothering anyone, should be prohibited under current BSA policy. It constitutes “behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA.”

    Unfortunately, many people will use the new policy clarification as an excuse to continue spreading negative stereotypes about gays, and will continue to use BSA as a mechanism to defame all gays. This is an abuse of BSA and its policies.

    • gwgmpls One question do you support the policies of no Homosexuals leaders will be permitted to be a BSA leader. I support it and will not use the latest clarification by the National Executive Board to bash any homosexual or any other form of discrimination against gays or their lifestyles it is their own business. Lets put the issue to rest and move on with the needs of Scouting. Trenton Spears

  9. Last time I checked, I’m still a citizen of the United States of America. Under that nation’s Constitution and its various Amendments, I still have the right to speak/write and freely assemble. While I’m a part of the BSA or a part of the military, I haven’t given those rights up.

    Nor should I expect others to give their rights up whether I agree or not with them. It’s simply a part of being an American.

    • Mike You are basic spinner of facts you say you recruited scoutmasters and assistant scoutmasters and you did not care if they were Homosexual or not. Why would you recruit leaders that would certainly be removed from their positions in the BSA. This is not free speech it is going around saying things that are false You say you belong to a BSA Council do they approve of your recruiting methods. I am a recruiter for my Council and recruit according to the policy of the Council and they follow the policy of the National BSA. I hope that your Council is following the policy of the National BSA if not they will lose their Council Charter on the allowing of homosexuals leaders. When I was referring to the Council having to join another Council because of financial problems I was not referring to me personally joining another Council I love my Council it is a first rate no nonsence Council that does not allow homosexual Leaders. I was referring to the Council losing its Charter because of its finances and again you twisted my comments to suit your comments. Sorry you lost your homosexual agenda the National Executive Officers have once again sustain the wishes of all the hard working Scout leaders that follow the Scout Oath and Law. There would be no purpose replying to your comments anymore you have shown your true colors and seem to not care about the homosexual policy of the Boy Scouts of America. Sincerely, Trenton Spears

      • Hi Trenton:

        I take it you glanced and didn’t read my post. There were no “spinning”. Go back and go to the posting I copied from Northern Star Council (one of the two Councils where I am registered). You will read the entire CURRENT policy of our Council, which has been approved by the BSA’s National Executive Board *ten years ago this fall*.

        You wrote in part and asked:

        “Why would you recruit leaders that would certainly be removed from their positions in the BSA.”

        Because I was 14 at the time and the BSA didn’t have such a policy in place, that’s why. I left the issue of whether someone was suitable or not to the chartered organization — and the local Council.

        “This is not free speech it is going around saying things that are false.”

        No, I am stating items which are true from my perspective and experiences, Trenton. I’ve got more than 40 years of it.

        “You say you belong to a BSA Council do they approve of your recruiting methods.”

        Absolutely. I belong to TWO local Councils which has the same policy which I wrote in writing (copied it actually and pasted it here) which does not distinguish between “who’s gay” and “who’s straight.” As a matter of fact, we aren’t even allowed to even *ask that question*. I take it you do…which means you may be in violation of the way that the BSA applies the leadership/membership policy. I’m going to say that you don’t. We volunteers have NO REASON to ask or query someone’s sexual preference. It’s not on the application, it’s not neccessary to know. If someone has a question about that, they are referred to the local Council. Let them make the determination — for that’s why we have them there in part!

        “I hope that your Council is following the policy of the National BSA if not they will lose their Council Charter on the allowing of homosexuals leaders.”

        They haven’t yet — and like I stated, Trenton, the policy is in writing, approved and executed for well over ten years now. And oh yeah…the Scout Executive of Northern Star was considered for the Chief Scout Executive’s position this spring. That alone says a lot about progress and progressive local Councils and growth.

        “When I was referring to the Council having to join another Council because of financial problems I was not referring to me personally joining another Council I love my Council it is a first rate no nonsence Council that does not allow homosexual Leaders.”

        That’s not what you stated and I can only respond to what you type/say.

        “I was referring to the Council losing its Charter because of its finances and again you twisted my comments to suit your comments.”

        I didn’t twist anything…you stated what you said and I quoted you exactly as you wrote it — didn’t add or take anything out. I did add quotation marks however.

        “Sorry you lost your homosexual agenda the National Executive Officers have once again sustain the wishes of all the hard working Scout leaders that follow the Scout Oath and Law.”

        It’s not *my homosexual agenda*, Trenton. As I stated, I don’t really care one way or the other personally, because I’m in Scouting for the opportunity to affect a lot of youth and their parents through what I do, what I say, and how I train and coach other adults. As a BSA volunteer, I am concerned about the direction of our movement and also as an Eagle Scout, I care about things like tolerance, service and volunteerism. Those things know no “orientation”, no gender, no specific part of the nation — in short, those items are global elements in being a part of Scouting today. I am sorry that you feel that I have “twisted” your words — in reality, I hope that I’ve made you think a few seconds about the impact that a more inclusive Scouting program would have on our local Councils and in return, to the chartered organizations and their youth and adult members.

        Those folks much more smarter and experienced that I am will figure this out. Whether we keep the same policy we have or they will develop a new policy incorporating the “best practices” from local Councils like Salt Lake, Minneapolis/St.Paul, Santa Clara, and Orlando (to say a few) — that’s up to them. I’ve enjoyed stating how I feel and why I feel that our program is “grown up enough” to be a bit more inclusive — IF we allow the chartered partners to make that decision for their own units and have the backing of the local Council and the National Council.

        Again, that’s MY opinions, Trenton. I’m not on the task force looking/examining the resolution. I trust they will do the right and correct things — but as I stated, I’m here for the long haul. I don’t twist in the wind as “people” would want me to.

        “There would be no purpose replying to your comments anymore you have shown your true colors and seem to not care about the homosexual policy of the Boy Scouts of America.”

        True that. I’ve already stated that I don’t care what the policy is — just that the BSA has a policy.

        Oh…my true colors is “chocolate brown” accented with “grey” and “beige”.

        • Taking a deep breath and relaxing before typing, I’ll remind folks that prior to the 1988 program changes (if I recall correctly), the BSA had no formal policy forbidding homosexual leaders — NOT because we were more open and accepting, but because it wasn’t felt necessary.

          Allow me to remind you all of some unpleasant facts. My wife’s a mental health professional. Her most valuable professional reference is the “Diagnostic Statistical Manual IV.” The DSM is updated every so often, and as late as either the DSM-II or the DSM-III (in other words, until the mid 1970′s) homosexuality was classified as a mental illness. At the same time until the late 60′s homosexuality was a CRIME everywhere, and well into the 80′s it was a crime in some jurisdictions.

          For that matter, the first Scout Troop I visited as a Webelos in the fall of 1978 — used corperal punishment on misbehaving scouts. (The “other” troop in town, the one I joined, did not.)

          When Mike Walton says he gave no thought to the sexual preference of leaders he recruited when he was a boy, it was because he didn’t need to. It was a reasonable assumption that they were all straight. And even if they were not, they would NEVER allow anyone to find out, because being gay was quite literally forbidden.

          As an excercise in Trivia, it’s worth noting that when the TV series “SOAP” had an openly gay character in 1977, there were significant boycotts and petition drives demanding the show be canceled, even before the first episode.

        • Mike Walton like I have stated there is no meaningfull purpose in replying to you. I do not now and have never in my recruiting of Scout Leaders asked them any questions about their sexual preferences or if they are homosexual. If I did find out later that they are homosexual I would be the first to see that they are removed from thier leadership position. I follow and support all the policies of the BSA either locally or Nationally. You state you are military and in the military you do not assume anything at least that was the way it was when I served in The Navy in1955. I do not appreciate someone like you twisting my comments like you have done. I also do not appreciate you referring that the BSA might become an all white camping club you would still call it Scouting. This comment is unexceptable to the standards of Scouting. I hope you will continue serving the BSA it needs good leaders that support the policies of the program. Lets put the homosexual concerns to rest and move on with promoting the values sustained by the National Executive Board. Sincerely, Trenton Spears

  10. It would please me to no end to put this whole issue to rest. On either side of the argument there are going to be individuals who are not going to change their feelings no matter what is said. This conversation has devolved into a volley no one will win. At this writing there have been 176 comments and we’re no further than at comment 4 or 5. Let the National Committee and the Councils and the Chartered Organizations hash this out and we can get back to serving the youth.

  11. Wow, such anger and vitriol. I ask everyone here to stop. Think. Before you decide to write, think about Jerry Sandusky, and his impact to youth over the past 30 years.

    • Jerry Sandusky has nothing to do with this issue. First of all, Sandusky is straight. Secondly, BSA’s policy regarding gay membership has nothing to do with child safety. BSA already has a two-deep leadership policy, and many other procedures, to provide for child safety. The gay membership policy is a freedom of speech issue, not a safety issue.

    • It sounds like BSA needs to provide basic training on the difference between homosexuality and pedophilia. The two are not connected. Excluding homosexuals to keep scouts safe from the likes of Jerry Sandusky is about as effective as a chocolate fireguard.

        • Ken, I think your link offers very little in the way of true science or supporting work.

          The problem with the Internet is anyone can get on a soapbox, say any combination of half-truths, then expect the world to follow them into the volcano (heck, even me). So, without further ado, here are a few links I’d invite you and anyone else who believes there to be a link to read.

          http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/rainbow/html/facts_molestation.html

          http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/Articles/000,002.htm

          http://www.internationalorder.org/scandal_response.html

          http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_chil.htm/

          http://dsadevil.blogspot.com/2006/10/homosexuality-versus-pedophilia.html

          http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/HOMOSEXUALITY_AND_PEDOPHILIA_The_False_link.html

          The links above were assembled in a matter of minutes, given a few hours I could really dazzle you.

          The articles clearly show that one fear (of homosexuality) does not mean that another fear (pedophilia) is justified. I would hope that one or more of the above articles is sufficient to help you to reconsider your position, most of them are from or cite specific scientific studies or works.

        • It would be futile for me to question your views about the morality of homosexuality; as far removed from my own views as they are, they are your beliefs.

          I would, however, suggest that you may want to visit your local public library and get some advice on finding reliable sources of information; especially on an issue as important as protecting scouts. It took me just a few seconds to spot the telltale signs of a disreputable information source such as a donate button and a PO box used for an address. A little further research finds that Paul Cameron – chairman of the Family Research Institute has been expelled from the American Psychological Association and formally disowned by the American Sociological Association for “consistently misinterpreted and misrepresented sociological research on sexuality, homosexuality, and lesbianism”. The only place he can have his work published is pay-to-publish journals such as Psychological Reports.

          As I previously said, your view and beliefs are your own. However, if you’re going to discriminate then you should base your discriminatory views on real facts.

        • I’m sorry. I actually said that the APA (who represent ALL psychologists) and the ASA (who represent ALL sociologists) discreditted him – surely homosexuals don’t have that much power and influence. Ken if you are not just trolling, please take a reality check.

        • I know what you said, but apparently you haven’t followed the chronological order of events that prove that Cameron disowned the associations before they “disowned” him. Associations like these would rather be Politically Correct than Morally Correct. I think you are doing the trolling here.

  12. Pingback: An Open Letter From an Eagle Scout - The Imaginative Conservative

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