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.


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.


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. The above is encouraging and meagerly informative since it feels a bit like lip service with no backbone towards taking the risk of doing what is right vs. what is popular. Is there a way to create an action step to allow individual Scouters and Leaders to voice their opinion? Can we sign an on-line petition or take some sort of vote as a member of the organization to push for the change? There seems to be a scattering of views and it would be encouraging if we could get a true vote of all members vs. the opinions of a few executives. It’s clear that this is a difficult decision to make as you are trying to appease many viewpoints from all regions of the country, but that in itself stands to reason that the policy should be more localized to allow for differences of opinion while still holding true to your core values and goals. It is truly heartbreaking to me when I have to try and defend the BSA policy knowing that I think we’re being outwardly discriminatory. I know that things take time to change, but if the Fed is willing to change and stand up for what is right no matter what the political cost, shouldn’t we?

    • Leon wrote and asked in part: “The above is encouraging and meagerly informative since it feels a bit like lip service with no backbone towards taking the risk of doing what is right vs. what is popular.”

      I don’t believe it was “lip service” at all, Leon – and I was in the ballroom as a voting delegate of my local Council. This was a *procedural thing* like so many other resolutions over the many years, and the BSA allowing it to be referred to their Membership/Relationships volunteers to discuss and formulate something to actually vote upon is “regular business” (although the reception of the pettition was not a part of the business meeting as stated above).

      “Is there a way to create an action step to allow individual Scouters and Leaders to voice their opinion? Can we sign an on-line petition or take some sort of vote as a member of the organization to push for the change?”

      I don’t see any reason, if you feel the way that is suggesting, why you cannot just go to their website and add your name to their petition. Lightning won’t strike you or anything if you did that. *smiling*

      As far as voting as a BSA volunteer, you and I have such a recourse — through our local Councils. You realize that our local Councils are composed of VOLUNTEERS like you and me, right? Their Executive Boards are composed of VOLUNTEERS like you and me, right? Our Councils are led by a VOLUNTEER Council President and a VOLUNTEER Council Commissioner, right? *smiling* We vote them in, give them guidance and direction, and let them make decisions on behalf of those volunteers and their youth within their Council.

      “There seems to be a scattering of views and it would be encouraging if we could get a true vote of all members vs. the opinions of a few executives. ”

      First, our executives have no vote. They provide the day-to-day continuity for our volunteer structure. We have to work to provide for ourselves and families; their work is to serve as our backstop.

      Second, if you’re talking about those volunteers serving on our National Executive Board, remember that they too have families and a full time job (or two in some cases). They vote based on what the local Councils are saying as well as their own convictions and feelings and opinions and ideas.

      I personally feel that the BSA did the right things. This is a “New BSA” and they are a lot more open and upfront about issues today than in the past. Doesn’t mean that they are abandoning who they are and what they stand for; just means that they want people to fully understand why they are the way they are. And of course, when I say “they”, I really mean “we”, for me, you and the thousands of other volunteers is what makes up the BSA. Let’s see what the committee brings out next spring and let’s see how the National Council and the National Executive Board deals with this then, Leon.

      • Could not have been better said! Bravo Mike. If you want change get involved. Don’t expect to get the top position right away. It takes experience and respect to lead.

      • Mike:

        You are “right on” as a ASM from my early days as a scouter use to say. We, the volunteers, are the BSA and if and when any policy is changed, regardless of subject, it must be in the best interests of the youth we serve.

        I am beginning to wonder if many of the volunteer scouters have lost sight of their real mission, the youth!

        • Somewhat sad that can’t even see what you don’t see. Yes, I DO understand that my real mission is the youth –and that means ALL Youth and not being selective through a form of discrimination based on age, race, religion, cultural origin, gender, and yes, sexual orientation. We are missing an important fact by only focusing discussions on the gay leadership since you are also excluding the opportunity of developing a huge population of boys. I’m referring to the youth that are gay, boys in a gay family, and all the boys of parents who won’t support a discriminatory organization. In a time when our membership is dwindling this is a clear path to help in that regard. I actually hate to even bring that up since that should be a very distant reason near the bottom of the list of why we should change our policy since the importance should be based on teaching the boys in BSA that we will do our duty to support ALL members into our organization who want to learn our core values.

          It would seem based on many of the comments in this thread that we shouldn’t “fix” what isn’t broken, yet that makes me feel like we would still be using our children in our factories, slaves would still be picking cotton, and women would be sewing patches on my uniform and cooking dinner since they wouldn’t be allowed to vote or work. Yes, we are a private organization and have some rights to determine a minimum set of admission criteria (no drug addicts, alcoholics, or pedophiles). However, we stand for much more than the Little Rascals boys club with a sign on the door that says “no girls allowed” or “He-Man Women Hater’s Club” ( We provide a true value system for the American family to step away from their TVs, Blackberries, iPhones, iPads, Wii, Xbox, etc. and step into a timewarp world of nature and education. Let’s show the world that we can learn from our mistakes and be better men for it. If for nothing else than so I can look my son in the face and say we were the generation that made it happen because it was the RIGHT thing to do and NOT because we made it was the easiest choice to make.

    • It’s a private membership organization. Girls are not allowed either. Nor are boys under 10.5 or over 18. People who join the organization knowing full well that they don’t agree with its membership tenets are not being honest. People who disagree with the joining requirements should join another organization. BSA is not the only Scout group. Find one that matches YOUR values, and be honest and trustworthy about your membership.

      The day that BSA allows homosexuals around underage children is the day that the organization folds.

      • “Allows homosexuals around underage children” – are you implying that homosexuality is a disease, is contagious or something? Do you know how many gay and lesbian adults are around children every day? What world do you live in? A very narrow world view.

      • KS,
        You do realize that the BSA does comprise Cub Scouts, first graders anywhere from 5.5 to 6.5 years old, as well as Sea Scouts and Venturers, which does allow girls?

      • Venturing allows Girls to be members, Woman over the age of 21 can be leaders, Cub Scouts allows entire families to participate and allows boys age 6-11 to participate. Venturing allows boys and girls age 14-20 to participate. This Jamboree will mark the first time Venturers will be allowed to participate as participants. The BSA is the only World Scouting Organization to not allow Girls to officially participate in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. As a Leader, I have seen girls participate in Cub Scout activities for years.

      • Actually, the first 80 years of the BSA did not have any qualifiers surrounding gays. And certainly did not “fold” during that time.

      • KS;
        You have hit the point exactly! BSA should not change its current membership policy for youth or leaders and should not be considered discriminatory for making that stance!
        If it does, its no longer the BSA!!!!!!

      • I am glad that the BSA does not allow homosexuals to become members. KS is 100% correct. Homosexuals are not “Moral” nor are they “Straight”. Being gay is a choice. A person is not born gay since gays can’t reproduce. It is just basic reproductive science. Homosexuals are the most intolerent group out there and are the true hate-mongers and bigots. They try to tear down any group that disagrees with their perverted morals and life style. I am glad that these “gay Eagle Scouts” have turned in their colors. They are unfit to wear the Eagle Scout Rank. It is conduct unbecoming. They are not my “brothers” either anymore than a thief, liar, or an adulterer would be.

        I was constantly attacked by homosexuals when I worked at Cornell University. I had 10 brother Eagles that had covered my back when they tried to get me fired due to my stance against their perverse lifestyle. Homosexuals can stay in their closet and stay out of the BSA.

        Look at the recent attack of Chick Fila. There was a grass roots movement proving that homosexuals are not what America believes and stands for. The rest of the world does not have the same view as homosexuals project the world to have. People know homosexuality is wrong and it will always be wrong.

        • In what way are people that are attracted to the opposite sex immoral? Are you a scientist? Do you have a degree in biology? Where is your evidence for saying that being gay is a choice? What scientific journal have you read that suggests/proves this?

        • Yes, I am a Biologist and yes, I am scientist. You don’t need scientific evidence for something that is common sense and common knowledge. But I am not going to argue this point on this forum.

    • Why is the gay rights movement so entitled to compelling the rest of the world to accept their choices? In other words, why should the BSA be obligated to act contrary to the principles it was founded upon? Every parent or youth leader wants those they care for to be and feel accepted and included by their peers and society at large, but none of us can save an individual from the consequences of their choices.

      To which I add, if the gay youth of today have such a significant desire for Scouting in their lives, then why hasn’t a Gay Scouts of America movement gained any traction? This issue isn’t really about exclusion from the BSA.

      • First off, it isn’t exactly easy to build an entirely new national organization from a base of individuals that is MUCH smaller than the existing BSA.

        And by your thinking, shouldn’t there also be a black BSA and, white BSA?

  2. Never once at a scout meeting have I talked to another scout or scouter about my sexual preferences. I question the character of any person who would openly discuss this sensitive issue with the scouts. BSA leaves that up to the family which is where it should be. My preference is not BSA’s business (as long as I’m not a pedophile & the background check is supposed to pick that up). BTW, according to the rules, husband and wife leaders are not allowed to sleep in the same tent. I wonder how many husband and wife scouters follow that rule?

  3. Bryan as usual the press has jumped to the wrong conclusion on the matter of resolutions that are discussed within the Scouting organizations agendas. The Boy Scouts are always open to any public input on Scouting issues. That does not mean that the BSA agrees with theses proposal’s it just means that the BSA invites the public for ideals of how to make the BSA the best it can be. Gay Leaders put our youth at risk and the gay community should respect the safety net that the Youth Protection Program provides for our BSA youth. If any person wants to have a program that permits gay leaders or a gay troop they should look into forming their own Scout program. We all know that the BSA would never function with Gay Leaders in the organizations leadership roles. Our membership would decline and the future of the program would be placed in jeapordy. Sincerely,
    Trenton Spears

    • “Gay Leaders put our youth at risk and the gay community should respect the safety net that the Youth Protection Program provides for our BSA youth.”

      That is one of the most ignorant statment I have ever read!

      Pedophila and homosexuality are two totally unrelated things. Basic Psychology 101.

      Gay men are not more likely to become child molesters than heterosexual men… in fact it’s the other way around. Statistically speaking, most child molesters are “straight” adult males (usually married and with children of their own), not openly gay male adults.

      What about lesbian leaders? What’s the risk there?

      Having a gay male leader is not putting the male youth of the program at any more risk than having straight male leaders allowed. Your argument could be used to say that allowing female leaders is a risk to Youth Protection in Boy/Cub Scouts. And what about male leaders in the co-ed venturing program?

      Don’t use homophobia and false beliefs to discriminate.

      • Brad,

        Must respectfully disagree. Have you heard about the New Orleans Scandal of the 1970s, where a group of gay men started a troop with the express intent of molesting the boys? Youth were affected directly by this group of men which probably scarred some for life. It also affected some youth indirectly as some parents did pull their sons out of units, or in the case of my brothers, or when the family moved did not encourage the youth to find new units.

        • I think you must be very confused. Homosexual men are interested in MEN, not boys. If someone intended to molest a boy then they are a pedophile. It is ignorance such as this that muddies the water of this complicated issue. With so many troops being chartered by organizations that openly condemn homosexuals, I am not sure that an organizational policy will ever be possible. Perhaps it would be better for each charter to specify who they wish to attract as members.

        • Jerry Many commentors are so uninformed about homosexuality and believe that it has no connection to pedophiles and child molestation they are completely wrong. The facts prove otherwise Our BSA youth are in harms way and wether leaders be homosexuals or straight we must use all the policies we have to protect our youth. Prevent and dismiss child molesters is the only policy that will solve the issue. The homosexual movement has become a political correct issue and has no place in the BSA agenda. Can we just move on and keep the BSA program out of the political agenda of the Gay conflict. Sincerely, Trenton Spears

      • Brad I stand by my statement that gay leaders do put our youth at risk and allowing gay leaders will hurt the membership in the BSA. What parent would allow their boys to be exposed to the possibility of a homosexual in counter at scouting activities. Opposition to the gay lifestyle does not make me ignorant nor should it keep me silent on my first admendment rights. I have been involved with the Boy Scout program since 1949 and I have experienced many changes in the program all for the good of the program. Allowing Gay Leaders in the BSA program would not be one of them. I respect a person’s choice’s in their personal lives but have no respect on any issue forced by a unpopular agenda for our BSA Scouts. Being politically correct is a trend and many homosexuals love to label people who oppose the gay movement and their intrusion of a forced change in a long and respected program such as the Boy Scouts of America. Sincerely, Trenton Spears

      • don’t dishonestly represent a desire to not associate with people you (figurateively) feel are morally reprehensible as being afraid of them. What exactly is a false belief? Anything you don’t subscribe to? Start a Rainbow Scouts organization if you’d like – if the current BSA does not want gays in their memebrship that’s fine – you don’t have to like it – if you think that’s backwards or unjustified or whatever that’s fine then don’t join. But that does not justify you wanting to tell them they aren’t allowed to have whatever memebrship they want. Start your own club.

    • “We all know that the BSA would never function with Gay Leaders in the organizations leadership roles.”

      Wow what an ignorant and hateful statement!

      My troop was lead by a gay leader (several in fact) and it was one of the best units I’ve ever seen deliver the Scouting program.

      Scouting in the UK does not descriminate against gays, and their numbers are currently booming like never before.

      • Actually, I think you’d be surprised at the number of parents who are currently keeping their boys out of scouting because of the current discrimination.

        • and that only speaks to the ignorance of those parents, not to the views of current scouts like myself

  4. Why is it every organization must change to satisfy society. Why does the ACLU have to change everything that they can. The BSA is a private organization that can set it’s rules for membership. That is that. Just because the President changed his mind, does that mean every organization in the world must change theirs. I could care less what your sexual orientation is. Leave me out of it and I do not care. But quit trying to change everything. If the system works, and it is not broke, then don’t fix it.

    Any by the way, last time I read the rules, married couples could share the same tent. It was the unmarried couples that could not.

    • No one is saying that the BSA has to “legally” change. Folks are saying that BSA has a moral obligation to not discriminate. That this kind of discrimination goes against the very values that the BSA supposedly upholds.

      • BSA does not have a moral ground not to discriminate against anyone or any situation. We teach standards that we believe are right and proper. To not have standards that do so mean that everyone accepts anything, everything and every one that comes along. If this is not so then why do we teach any child not to get into a car or go along with a stranger. Your standard is that this is ok because the child should not discriminate, or use judgement, against a stranger. You let your child, if you have any, or any other child relative go along to get along. I will fulfill my obligation to protect such a child and prevent it.

    • Actually, following the U. S. Supreme Court ruling that BSA can discriminate in allowing membership, the ACLU filed a “Friend of Court” brief in a case where a school had denied a Scout Troop the right to use their customary meeting place because the organization did not accept homosexual leaders. The ACLU stated the issue was settled law and that the school was in the wrong.

  5. If BSA does not allow “behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA.”, then why does it allow councils to dismiss adults from membership, based solely on the adult’s sexual orientation, even though everybody is perfectly happy with the adult’s performance, and sexual orientation has nothing to do with the core mission of Scouting?

    Has BSA issued a reprimand or a dismissal to the leaders who distracted from the mission of BSA by forcing Jennifer Tyrrell to leave the BSA? Has BSA ever retracted or clarified the testimony to the Supreme Court that stated BSA “teaches that homosexual behavior is not morally straight”? How can BSA on the one hand claim that sexual orientation is a distraction from its core mission, but then on the other hand support testimony to the Supreme Court that teaching the immorality of homosexuality is a core value of Scouting?

    Far from clarifying BSA membership policies, this last batch of conflicting headlines points out that BSA membership policies are as clear as mud, and have been since at least 2000. BSA leaders have free reign to say whatever they want about membership policies, like telling gay adults it is no problem for them to join, as they did with Jennifer Tyrrell and many other open gays currently serving in BSA, but then BSA reserves the right to kick out a gay person whenever they feel like it.

    Even the LDS church now allows openly gay adults to serve in leadership positions. BSA’s current membership policies are so backward, vague, arbitrary, undocumented and mean-spirited, that they are a disgrace to all of the Scout Laws that BSA used to stand for.

    It was nice to be part of the generation that still remembers BSA when it was great. BSA is quickly moving into the dark, shameful backwater of failed U.S. institutions.

    • “Even the LDS church now allows openly gay adults to serve in leadership positions. BSA’s current membership policies are so backward, vague, arbitrary, undocumented and mean-spirited, that they are a disgrace to all of the Scout Laws that BSA used to stand for.”

      REALLY??? And where are you getting this from? While the LDS Church is not excommunicating gay members for their sexual preference, neither are they putting gay members in leadership positions.

      Nice try at trying to use BSA’s largest individual sponsor as a ramming pole. Not working…

        • Check your facts on this article. Bishop and Executive Secretary are different positions of leadership, the latter supporting the former. Gay Mormons, like all other members of the LDS church, can be called to serve in leadership positions if they are living a lifestyle consistent with church doctrine. Gay Mormons should be accepted in full fellowship with all others who come to worship each Sunday. Living a gay lifestyle does place restrictions on serving in positions of responsibility church. As I stated above, none of us can be sheltered from the consequences of our own choices.

    • “It was nice to be part of the generation that still remembers BSA when it was great. BSA is quickly moving into the dark, shameful backwater of failed U.S. institutions.”

      So, let me get this straight (no pun intended) – by NOT changing their policy on homosexual members, a policy that BSA has had since it was “great”, BSA is “moving into the dark”?

      • times have changed and the BSA needs to as well.

        By your arguement then, if America, a great nation, chose not to give citizens the right to vote, then it would still be great?

    • Curtis You are mis-informed about the LDS Church position on Homosexuals in the Church. The Churches position is that if you practice homosexual activity you will have to repent and change this lifestyle or you will not be able to continue being a member of the Church. The Church also condems adultry and other sexual disgressions as a reason for dismissal from the Church. The Church is very patient and compassionet to any member who fails to live up to the standards of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Please make no mistake because we are passionet and caring the Church does not believe in homosexuality and considers it a sin against Gods teachings. Trenton Spears

      • Trent, that’s interesting. Scouting serves more than just the LDS however. It serves ALL faiths. And some faiths have a different stance than the LDS regarding homosexuality. Should the BSA shut the door on them?

        I saw a post recently that stated (in another forum) the Canada BSA has for years allowed LGBT adult leaders – and I would assume youth – to join. To date and from the poster’s comments, no difficulties have been encountered. I can’t confirm either statement at this time, but I thought I would throw it out there to see how others felt.

        • How can there be any problems to report when an organization accepts certain attitudes and standards. What then is there to complain about? Those who supported Hitler, Mousaleni <= probably spelled wrong, and Hito thought thier standards were ok. Even Nevel Chamberlyn supported Hitler with The Treaty of Versailles. Look how that worked out.

        • Charles Featherer I am aware of all the many organizations that are in the BSA program and all of them are to be recommended for their contributions to the youth of America. I am a member of the LDS Church and I was responding to the comments by Curtis about the position of the LDS Church on Homosexual Church members and Scout leaders. I am not sure of what you were implying by your comments on the BSA closing doors to Churches that have a different views on homosexuality.The BSA has no issues with lifestyes outside of the policies of the BSA. Thier policies are clear and solid as to the exclusion of Gay Leaders and need to be respected for their views on protecting our youth in Scouting. There have been many BSA Scout programs that have been terminated at public meeting places for their stand against allowing homosexual’s in the BSA Leadership program. Some Units have been there for 70 years or more and have had to find a private place for their Scout Troops. I know there will be a continuing dialog on the policies of the Boy Scouts of America but in the end the BSA will do what is best for the program as they have always done. They are a great organization for the youth of America and there is nothing equal to their success in building sound and solid citizens for the future of America. Sincerely,
          Trenton Spears

      • “by NOT changing their policy on homosexual members, a policy that BSA has had since it was “great”, BSA is “moving into the dark”?”
        When I was a child, there were plenty of openly homosexual leaders within scouting. Don’t pretend that this recent policy of discrimination is something that has always been there. I’ve watched with dismay as scouting moved from, “learning about the great outdoors,” to the current policy of “learning to conform to Mormon values.”
        My sons are looking at 4H and FFA, and I guess we’ll do our camping on our own terms.

        • That’s great, changa! Your sons SHOULD look to organizations that support your family’s values. FFA in our area is a wonderful program that serves many youths. I sincerely hope that they are happy there, they learn a lot, and develop friendships with others.

          Just as mine is happy within an organization whose values and joining requirements we support and adhere to. We won’t be heading to our local FFA chapter to join, and then ask them to change to suit us.

  6. I believe that “standing up for what is right” is the policy that the BSA has and the “doing what is popular” is the what gay rights movement doing including the stance that President Obama took on gay marriage. I’m sure the backbone will come out after the report is presented by the committee to Executive Council.

    • The fact that everybody “believes” they know what BSA membership policies are, but nobody can point to a clear, written policy document anywhere, is at the heart of the problem. Everybody is projecting their own personal beliefs about homosexuality, whether for or against, onto BSA.

      The fact that everyone is projecting their own beliefs onto BSA is what is making everyone increasingly frustrated with BSA. Instead, BSA should be take a leadership position with a clear, unambiguous written membership policy. Until they do so, BSA will continue to be the political whipping boy of people on both sides of this issue, and will continue to be distracted from its core mission of serving boys and families.

  7. This is a Civil Rights Act, to protect all against discremination. What upsets me is that the BSA allows the LDS (Mormans) to remain in scouting and working with kids after they have mollested a child. It happend here in out council and it has happend else where. First off it is no ones bussiness, regarding your sexual pereference, it is the same for color of skin, race, religion, culture, gender. I have know two boys who were humiliated by the council and thir troop because they were gay. These young men committed suicide.

    Shame on you BSA….

    • Charlie This is not a Civil rights issue The BSA is a private organization and sets its own rules and regulations for the good of the program. The Courts have ruled in favor of the BSA to set its own standards. As far as the LDS Church is concerned you are right their have been cases of child molestation in their Scouting programs these leaders have been removed and monetary compensation has been paid through the Courts to the victims of a terrible injustice to the youth of America. Thank God these incidents have been few and do not represent the great work that the BSA and the LDS Church does for the youth of America. We live in a a very dangerous world and protecting our youth is the most important functions of the BSA and the LDS Church and the present preventitive measures are always in force to protect them. Do some Leaders fall throught the cracks they certainly do. Do some adminstrators overlook and protect some perpretators they certainly do look at the Catholic Church over the years has allowed this . Can we prevent all attacks on our youth certainly not. We can keep searching and exposing these bad elements in our Scouting programs and keep strict regulations and rules to prevent these molestation atrocities from occouring in our Scout programs. Sincerely, Trenton Spears

  8. Curtis wrote and asked in part: “If BSA does not allow “behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA.”, then why does it allow councils to dismiss adults from membership, based solely on the adult’s sexual orientation, even though everybody is perfectly happy with the adult’s performance, and sexual orientation has nothing to do with the core mission of Scouting?”

    Because even though she was open and the chartered organization knew of her orientation, there’s a policy in place right now which says that *openly gay or lesbian individuals* cannot serve as BSA volunteers. The local Council had no choice. This is the basis for part of the resolution presented during the BSA’s National Meeting.

  9. It’s time that the BSA revoked its backward policies:
    Let’s forget the LGBT adults who want to be scout leaders, there’s something a lot of people are missing:
    The BSA is sending a wrong message to LGBT kids who are or want to be scouts through this backward, bigoted, and homophobic policy. Perhaps the BSA should think about that?

    I’m 15 yrs (soon 16) and I’m gay, I’ve been wanting to join the boy scouts for some time now (a few years in-fact!), but I haven’t because policies like this make me think that LGBT people are not welcome — I’ve been waiting so long for them to revoke these policies. When will the BSA step into the 21st century?


    The BSA should stop encouraging homophobia.

    • Your assertion is incorrect (see the mission statements of other Scouting groups). Also, GSUSA is not BSA’s counterpart — they are closer to opposites. Why not join a Scouting group that is openly accepting of your choices? Why does it have to be BSA? You don’t meet the requirements. Find a place that you do. I suggest trying Spiral Scouts, Girls/Boys Clubs of America, Earth Scouts, 4-H, (the list goes on and on).

      My son can’t join Daughters of American Revolution, my daughter can’t join BSA, neither can get a scholarship from the United Negro College Fund, — because these are PRIVATE organizations with their own requirements.

      Find one that gels with your worldview.

  10. Curtis also wrote in part: “Far from clarifying BSA membership policies, this last batch of conflicting headlines points out that BSA membership policies are as clear as mud, and have been since at least 2000. BSA leaders have free reign to say whatever they want about membership policies, like telling gay adults it is no problem for them to join, as they did with Jennifer Tyrrell and many other open gays currently serving in BSA, but then BSA reserves the right to kick out a gay person whenever they feel like it.”

    Just in case you missed it from Bryan’s note above, here’s the BSA membership policy as it relates to this topic:

    “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.”

    Reads clear as a bell to me. No mud anywhere. If you’re open in your sexuality or engage in behavior which would become a distraction, the BSA would rather you serve voluntarily as part of another organization — and not theirs.

    The issue here — one of two — is that a *local unit* and *its chartering organization* permitted an openly admitted lesbian mother to serve as a Den Leader. The intention was honest and good: they accepted her registration on upfront and open terms; they knew — she knew — what the policy was but they sided on having a committed volunteer to serve within their Cub Scout Pack. Did she violate the BSA’s registration/leadership policy? Yes, which is why the local Council revoked her registration. Is she correct in seeking a change to that policy? Yes, she is and as I stated earlier, let’s let the BSA’s Membership/Relationships volunteers work through the issue (and the related one — whether a local unit’s chartered partner (that church, school, community organization which partners with the BSA through the local Council to “host their Scouting unit”) can say “we’ll vouch for you” and accept registration for anyone without regard to sexual *behavior* (remember, the BSA’s policy is to not “seek out” gays or lesbians but to discourage *openly stated* gays or lesbians from registration/membership.)

    • ….which is homophobic bigotry…

      And really? Do heterosexuals who are open about *their* sexuality get booted too? Hmm? I didn’t think so.

      • Greg, I don’t have access to a lot of stuff, but I do know that *individuals* stutting their sexuality (gay or straight, male or female) are asked to “take it elsewhere”. It’s not a “homophobic” thing but rather a “behavioral” thing. We’re running a civics and character building program here, not a “Love in the Wild” or “Bachelor/Bachelette” program.

        • That’s not true is it? Heterosexuals who are open about their sexual orientation aren’t booted are they?!?

        • Greg, if your chartered partner organization feels that you are *ahem* a bit more *ahem* “out there” with your sexuality, they can (and I am sure it has occured…not just posted about in the media like this gal’s issue) ask you to find another organization to volunteer within. Again, this has NOTHING to do with homophobia and EVERYTHING to do with behavior around youth members and/or other adults. It simply has no place in Scouting.

        • I agree that it is inappropriate for a leader (gay or straight) to strut their sexuality, and if they cross the line they should be told to “take it elsewhere” and removed from the organization.

          However, if a male leader says “let me introduce you to my wife” it is okay, but a male leader says “let me inroduce you to my husband” he’s automatically gone too far? Now obviously if a gay leader is talking about their sex life, spotlighting their sexuality, showing public displays of affection, or being overtly sexual, it is innappropriate (just as it would be wrong for a straight leader to do the same); but it seems that mearly being openly gay has been deemed innappropriate (whereas being openly straight is okay).

      • Greg, I was a Scoutmaster the first time when I was single and in my 20′s. And indeed I did have an occasional discussion regarding being a bit “out there” — at that time (early 90′s) I was also involved in a Country and Western Dance group, and we frequently danced in local bars and clubs. The chartering organization was a bit leery of my Scouts finding out about that, and my cigar habit. (Which went away when the woman who is now my wife objected to the tobacco use.)

        It’s not that the scouts were unaware of my dating life (in fact more than one parent set me up on dates with single friends), but both the church who sponsored us and our Troop Committee as a whole were very interested in my not discussing the issue with the Scouts.

    • So Bryan’s blog is now the official repository for the Membership Policy for the Boy Scouts of America? I’m sure Bryan is flattered by the compliment. From now on we will direct all media and court inquiries to this blog; his hit rate will skyrocket!

      You said there was a policy in place before Bryan made his blog post. Happen to have that policy in writing somewhere?

      • Cwgmpls wrote and asked:

        “You said there was a policy in place before Bryan made his blog post. Happen to have that policy in writing somewhere?”

        Yeah. It’s been on the BSA’s website ( since the last iteration of their site’s build (since 2006). It’s exactly as Bryan cut and pasted it, with the additional comments.

        • Where exactly on is this policy? Tried searching could not find it. Please provide the exact url.

        • That’s merely a link to the press release of the clarification of the policy (dated June 7, 2012), which is the same thing that’s been posted here today. Where’s the original actual policy page that has been on the site (as you said) since 2006.

        • Pants on fire! That statement has not been around since 2006. It is dated June 7, 2012. Oh wait, that’s today!

          So what written policy are you referring to that was in place when Jennifer Tyrrell was kicked out? Oh, that’s right BSA is a private organization and the Supreme Court told them they don’t need a written policy to do whatever they feel like doing. Written policies are apparently only for organizations that value being trustworthy more than being private.

  11. I understand the BSA’s legal right to exclude whomever they want from membership. I understand that they can exclude gays if they want to. However in all my years as a Scouting leader I have yet to get a clear answer as to why the BSA chooses to exclude these individuals from membership.

    What parts of the Scout Oath and Law or the Aims and Methods of Scouting are supposedly at odds with homosexuality?

    • Thank you Matthew! I agree!

      And in addition to that, are they afraid that a gay Leader would teach a different Oath and Law, or change the Aims and Methods of Scouting? Because we can pick and choose, right? Safety should not be an issue. We are all YP trained annually, and are subject to background checks.

      • Let’s get things right, Danny. First, the Scout Law point of Reverent applies to ALL faiths, addresses tolerance as well as understanding, and the “generic God” is used as a placeholder. Separate issue.

        Second, the Scout Oath or Promise has nothing in there about “Spiritually Strong”. Since 1911 it is always been “…Physically Strong, Mentally Awake and Morally Straight.” I’ve already explained the “morally straight” part somewhere else (I think on LinkedIn yesterday). It has nothing to do with “being straight” as a sexual preference orientation (it was written at the same time that people were publically singing about “being gay”) but rather having a personal moral “compass” and staying on a positive direction without being distracted to get one “off-course”.

        • Whoops I got it wrong. So kill me for being human. Physically, but spiritually is not too far a stretch. Secondly.. name me a world faith that teaches same sex relations is a viable and prefable alternative to the natural order.

    • In 2000 testimony to the Supreme Court, BSA asserted that it “teaches that homosexual conduct is not morally straight”.

      According to testimony given under oath to the Supreme Court, the immorality of homosexuality is one of BSA’s core teachings.

      • Moral – the ability to tell right from wrong.

        Straight – not crooked, often in reference to a line.

        In fact, the use of the term ‘straight’ to refer to people as an orientation didn’t even happen until the mid-1900′s. So let’s please stop using our revised definitions of these terms to interpret what was meant by Baden Powell. He was simply stating that a boy should be raised to be a man that makes good decisions for himself and his community, no more or less than that. He wanted young men to have a firm grounding in what it meant to be a good citizen. It wasn’t a two word treatise on sexual orientation.

        • Charles Featherer You need to refresh your history of Baden Powell he clearly stated that a Scout needs to believe in a Surpeme Being for guidence in their role as a boy or man on morality. Sincerely, Trenton Spears

  12. Mike- I applaud your efforts in defending the BSA on this hot issue. Please know that there are many people in your corner. As a BSA leader I have had this discussion more than once and unfortunately the only conclusion I’ve ever reached is that the we are fighting a battle with a group that refuses to accept any outcome other than total and complete destruction of the BSA. If they are ever successful, my heart grieves for the young men that don’t have the same opportunites that so many others before them have had.

    I don’t necessarily agree with all the policies of the BSA but I respect it’s right as a private entity to set the polices of membersihp that it wishes. I also believe that as a voluntary member of the organization it is my responsibility to defend the organization as it stands and work toward finding a common ground.

    I am saddened that we will continue to watch the BSA get drug through the mud by the outspoken, and often intolerant, court of public opinion.

  13. Been reading all the inputs, I am an active duty military Public Affairs Officer and former cubmaster, now Asst. Scoutmaster. The information Mike is putting out is on target and I was wondering if you are the official spokesman for BSA?? What has not been mentioned above is the detrimental affects this failed policy has incurred on BSA. One input above mentioned membership being at stake but that was an incorrect supposition, on the contrary, ever since the BSA took the hard-line tack against homosexuals serving and most Public Schools booted them out from their cafeteria’s, membership took a nose dive (at least in our district it did). The Church’s have tried but failed to fill the gap in support. The days when cubbies and scouts could wear their uniforms to school once a week or once a month and tell other kids they meet at school afterwards, like when I was a cubbie & scout are gone, along with our membership numbers. THE RIGHT OF INDIVIDUALS TO HAVE THE SAME RIGHTS AS EVERYONE ELSE IS NOT A “POPULAR IDEA” IT IS THE RIGHT THING TO DO. One guy above was complaining about ACLU wanting to change evrything. If we never changed, then blacks would still be slaves and women would have no rights. Is that what YOUR idea of freedom and liberty not to mention reverant, kind, friendly, etc…. Lets not pussyfoot around the issue, BSA’s policy is made up and created by a bunch of old guys who think becuase of their pseudo-religious beliefs homosexuality is a sin. Jesus Christ makes ZERO mention of homosexuality. In all the books of the bible, the topic appears less than six times. Yet there are numerous references made about stonning, beating, raping and killing your wife, sons, neighbors, enemies, for a viriety of reasons. But those passages we ignore…….just sayin. The Military Finally got onboard, BSA needs to do the same.

    • Thank you,
      We just lost our charter because local PTA’s are recommending to their groups to stop chartering scouts.

      • Then pick yourself up off the ground and go recharter…losing a charter happens all the time for any number of reasons. Contact your local churches, police departments, fire departments, & civic organizations.

      • I agree. Shake the dust off your clothing and footwear and search out a better Charter Organization. They are out there. Lead, Follow or get out of the way.

  14. In my opinion, the biggest issue with this policy that I’ve seen is the aura of suspicion and fear it creates. Suspicion on the part of the many, and fear on the part of the few.
    When I was a scout, a man in his late 20s was new to the area, and he had come to visit our troop. He had been very active in scouting as a youth, Eagle Scout, high OA honors. Everyone immediately suspected him simply because he was a new face, a man, and single. He didn’t do anything wrong, but he was gone
    Fast forward 15 years. I volunteer with the unit I was a member of as a youth. I’m a 20-year veteran of Scouting. I’m almost 30 and I’m single, and people just assume I’m gay, and I can feel all eyes on me the second I put on my uniform. YPG is distorted and rules are made up on the spot when I’m around. When I went to the District Exec, he was very helpful, but when the SM was told he was mistaken, he simply threatened to kick me out.
    I’m not gay, but I might as well be; every time I take my time and energy and resources to advance the youth of my community, I become a suspect by the very organization I’m giving myself to. Why is that possible? This policy on homosexuals. I’m morally straight, but because of the very fact that I’m not some crooked womanizer, I’m assumed gay, and I have to take a defensive posture everywhere. And I’m not alone, everywhere I go, I see other younger men in the same position.
    That is a shame.

    BSA is correct that adult and youth members have no business discussing their sex lives. Mike humorously noted above that scouting is not “love in the wild” and he’s right. In the past few years, BSA has started ham-handedly saying that their prohibition on homosexuals is about keeping discussion of sexuality (all sexuality) out of Scouting–that is as stupid as it sounds. That’s not true, and anyone with a brain knows that’s a load. An openly gay person is just as capable of not discussing their sexuality and sex life as a straight person.
    BSA’s older and underlying position is the obvious one: That BSA does not consider homosexuality moral under any circumstances (whether it’s being discussed or displayed or not). What is the root of that conclusion? Judeo-Christian teachings. Alright, that’s fine by me. So let’s also bar divorcees, people with tattoos, anyone that makes a living by charging interest on loans, people that eat fish, women that wear makeup. You see where I’m going: We are all–all–immoral people. The only difference between a straight person’s moral shortcomings and a gay person’s shortcomings are that we can’t necessarily see the straight person’s. Every scouter has his own moral shortcomings.

    Last night, my church–a conservative, So. Baptist church in the burbs, and the 4th largest in the state–had it’s regular Weds night spring/summer “Hot Topics” service where the pastor plays on the hot weather to hit on touchy subjects; last night was homosexuality. I think that the BSA can learn from what we heard: Homosexuals are ours. They should be our people. All young men are looking for their identity, and if we do not give them an avenue to find and adopt one, then they *will* look elsewhere and they will find one. Through organizations nationwide, homosexuals are filling the gap and giving disenfranchised gay youth a script for that identity which is all about sex and sexuality. The BSA is uniquely positioned in America to offer all youth, but especially gay youth, a better script; to form an identity with depth beyond sexuality. An identity of self-respect based on accomplishment and self-reliance.

    The BSA is up against the wall and they’re defensive. I understand it and I don’t blame them, I’m a stubborn guy that finds myself in that position a lot. But this policy is harmful: It is harmful to membership, and to the BSA’s mission. It’s a hindrance!

    • Here is my opinion on my comments about the ACLU. They fight for prisoners rights in Arizona. They fought to get two female into the Citadel (Male Military Academy) causing the academy to be forced into building a new barracks and shower facility and then to have both the women drop out before the first semester was over. The first one was out during what they call hell week.

      They want to force us to allow females into all the boys schools out there. But if a male wants to join a girls school, there is no defense for him. The ACLU causes more problems then they solve. They came out to NC in defense of a guy who killed a US Marshall saying that his arrest was too rough. They take prayer out of everywhere they can. It is my belief that the ACLU causes more problems then they solve.

    • <>

      The GLBTA community also believes and would like everyone to believe that their shortcomings are not shortcomings, that sin is not sin.

      We ALL sin, but we don’t all try to convince everyone that our sin is not a sin!

  15. While I support the BSA’s right to maintain this policy, I do not agree with it. However, I do not want to see them bullied politically into changing it. I am of the mind that you can not force tolerance, it must be learned.

    I am a guide, a mentor, a Leader. My job is to help these Scouts find their own strength and worth, to become leaders themselves in whatever capacity their lives take them. Why deny that right of other potential Leaders? I think it would be a great loss… we REALLY need GOOD LEADERS. As far as I am concerned, sexual orientation is not a factor for determining this.

  16. A simple question. Which of these two statements is correct?

    1) Scouting believes same-sex attraction should be introduced and discussed outside of its program.

    2) BSA teaches that homosexual conduct is not morally straight.

    They are mutually exclusive. Either BSA teaches about homosexual conduct or it does not. Which one is correct?

    • I’ve never seen nor heard of anyone in the BSA “teaching about homosexual conduct”. Sorry.

      The explaination which clarifies the BSA’s policy is pretty clear (the *stars* indicate *my emphasis, not the BSA’s):

      “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.”

      Because we in Scouting don’t talk about sexuality *at all*, there’s no instruction provided about various lifestyles or sexual orientations. It’s simply not a part of the program. We leave that matter to parents, guardians, religious and educational individuals and health and medical personnel to discuss at *appropriate times* and under *appropriate circumstances*. It’s NOT a part of Scouting.

      • Google the phrase “teaches that homosexual conduct is not morally straight”

        It was the basis for the Supreme Court ruling in favor of BSA in BSA vs. Dale of 2000.

        If this statement is not true, the Supreme Court would have had no basis to allow BSA to exclude gays.

  17. I am very pleased to see all the comments taking place this morning regarding this topic. It is extremely important that this conversation take place and for the BSA to a take a serious look at the proposed resolution outlined in Bryan’s post. The reason I think this proposed resolution is so important is it would allow the chartering organization to decide which policy it would wish to follow about this very important topic. Let’s face it the largest number of chartering organization involved with scouting in the United States are religious organizations. They themselves are continuing to change and evolve on this topic of sexuality. Here is the link from which shows the breakdown of the membership Let’s face it, as long as the largest number of chartering organizations are religious organization that subscribe to the exclusion of gay people it will be difficult for the National organization to change the policy. These are a lot of dues paying members. But that is the beauty of this new resolution. If the LDS church does not what to allow a gay person to serve as a leader but the local Lyon’s Club or for that matter a public school is willing to do so, both groups will be able to do so. This would allow the national BSA policy on sexuality outlined in Bryan’s post to remain fulfilled and allow people involved with scouting to choose a troop or pack based on what they think is right about this issue. Keep the conversation going and let’s help scouting continue to make a difference in the lives of all American boys.

      • I’m not sure I would consider the “Executive Secretary” a leadership position in the sense of the word you’re implying. This position is an assistant to the leader of the ward who handles administrative matters such as scheduling appointments for the leadership group.

        Calling the Exec Secretary a leadership position in the LDS Church is like saying the CEO’s secretary is a leader in a large corporation. The two positions are the same…

        • The article states that others do consider Mayne to be in a leadership position, and he is not the only openly gay male to serve in “leadership positions” in the LDS:

          “He is not the first self-identified gay member to hold a key leadership position within the LDS Church’s all-volunteer clergy and staffing. A Seattle ward, for example, reportedly had a gay counselor to the bishop and in Oakland, Calif., a gay man is on the stake’s high council and is a temple worker. …

          ‘I was pretty shocked when the bishop [Don Fletcher] asked me,’ Mayne said this week. ‘I never expected to be in a leadership role. It is humbling, daunting and a little scary.’”

  18. Kudos to Eagle Scout Zach Wahls, the son of lesbian parents, for bringing this issue to the annual meeting. If I were his parents, I would be proud as punch of my son standing up for our family and for the civil rights of others in such a public way. Talk about a Scout taking a stand for what he believes is right, even though it is not necessarily popular–exactly the kind of values I hope my Scout is learning.

    My biggest concern (and I have many) with this policy is the message that is sent to Scouts who will discover, in the course of growing up, that they are gay. This policy tells them that they are no longer welcome; that, simply for being true to who they are, that they are “not good enough” for an organization that they may have come to love, that they are no longer welcome to be a member of their troop, with boys that have come to be their friends. That they are certainly not welcome as adult leaders. And other Scouts learn that, because Scouts is a “private” organization, that in private, it is OK to discriminate against someone who is different.

    Not to mention that it is not such a big leap from “non-acceptance” to “bullying,” and, much as we hope our Scouts never bully, they are kids and teens still learning how to do the right thing in the world, which means they are NOT always going to do the right thing. Gay teens have a high suicide rate, not in small part because of the non-acceptance, harassment, and assault they can expect in many venues. What would it say for the Boy Scouts to stand up and say, “We will not stand for intolerance in any form?”

    I have been told a number of times by families that they are choosing not to have their sons join Scouts because of this policy, and I can hardly blame them. In addition, our Scouts nearly got kicked off the town property we have always used for our annual Christmas tree sale, which is our sole fundraiser of the year. I have heard from other Scouters about the troubles that they have experienced when our discriminatory, private organization wants to use public resources, like a school property, or even advertise our open houses in school newsletters.

    I happened to notice that our military has not actually disintegrated with the dissolution of “don’t ask; don’t tell.” I live in Massachusetts, and heterosexual families have also not come to ruin in the 8 years that gay marriage has been legal here. The Boy Scouts, when we finally get around to repealing this outdated and anti-Scout-values policy, will also find that the sky will not fall–we will simply catch up with the times.

    • Your argument falls apart in the beginning — that boys “discover” they are homosexual. Sex (excepting rape) is a choice.

      About discrimination, do you think that private organizations should have to admit everyone? Do people no longer have the right to free association? I missed the vote on that.

      Those families that don’t agree with BSA’s policies SHOULD NOT JOIN. That’s pretty simple. There are other groups that would probably love to have involved parents.

      BSA won’t ever “get around to repealing” the exclusions on homosexuality. Most people still recognize it as an aberration.

      • Most people do NOT view it as an “aberration.” I believe Nancy is quite right. The BSA is a great organization, it’s a shame to exclude some children from experiencing that just because of an out-dated policy. My 10-year-old son even said he wished the BSA would allow girls. If a 10-year-old can recognise that girls have just as much to offer to a group dynamic as boys do, why can’t adults do the same. I realize that’s a departure from the homosexuality debate, but as others have pointed out, Scouting isn’t about sex.

        • BCDH How would you handle girls in the BSA progam under 16 years of age. It would creat so many problems and law suits by having mixed genders in a campout situation. What about the leadership the current policy is two deep leadership is all you need could two leaders handle 10 to 20 mixed gender scouts. If you had a12 to 15 year old daughter would you permit her to go to a campout with male scouts? And since when does a ten year olds suggestions influence policies in the BSA. Sorry your comment is not reponsible and will certainly hurt the BSA progam with scouts and leaders leaving the organization if BSA tries to change unwanted policies. I hope that people will recognize that the BSA program is in great shape and need to be supported in its current position. Its like the old saying folks if it isn’t broke don’t fix. Sincerely, Trenton Spears

        • BSA already does ‘handle’ ladies under 16 years of age. It’s called Venturing, and starts at 14. They’ve been doing it for many years successfully. I don’t think comparisons to Venturing though is fair in this issue. Apples and oranges in my book.

        • Hi Trenton:

          I guess you are not aware of Venturing or Exploring, huh?

          You wrote earlier:

          “How would you handle girls in the BSA progam under 16 years of age.”

          Well, the BSA has been handling girls in the BSA program since 1971, when we allowed girls between 13 and 21 to become Explorers. Many Explorers went camping right alongside Boy Scout Troops with little to no problems.

          In 1973, the BSA entered into an agreement with the Girl Scouts of the USA to permit Girl Scouting units to use BSA camping facilities if they brought their own adult leadership. This was further renewed under the Venturing program in 1999 to allow Girl Scouts and American Heritage Girls programs to use BSA camping facilities — even when Troops were present — again, under their own adult supervision and leadership.

          “It would creat so many problems and law suits by having mixed genders in a campout situation.”

          The BSA has never had a lawsuit dealing with males and females interacting at a camping facility. The only problems would be who would get the latrines at which times of the days, which among adults interested in the program and not causing “dramatic episodes” could figure this out themselves without a lot of paperwork and conflict.

          I took my Explorer Post, consisting of all females except four boys (33 youth total) to summer camp, to other Council’s summer camps, to Northern Tier for canoeing, and down to the Sea Base for water sports and camping.

          “What about the leadership the current policy is two deep leadership is all you need could two leaders handle 10 to 20 mixed gender scouts”.

          We did, We brought eight adults, and the majority of them were female. As long as you follow the simple, common sense policies in the Guide to Safe Scouting, you won’t have an issue.

          “If you had a12 to 15 year old daughter would you permit her to go to a campout with male scouts?”

          Absolutely! I had a three year old daughter who went with my Troop to summer camp. She stayed with her mother and me in a tent separated from the rest of the Troop, but Lauren had a great time — and so did the boys!!

          “And since when does a ten year olds suggestions influence policies in the BSA.”

          Since it’s all about the youth — a concept I feel you have not taken to heart, Trenton.

      • Errrrr, not sure I ever remember making the choice to be attracted to girls. If someone is able to make that choice then I believe that would make them bi-sexual. Nancy is bang on with her comments about the need to be aware of the messages we send to our scouts. It is particularly relevant due to the age that boys become part of the scouting family being pre-puberty. It is our responsibility to form our youth into the best young men they can be, regardless of their sexual orientation.

  19. Julian: like you, I am a public affairs officer (civilianized now, working for the Air Force). I am NOT an official spokesperson for the BSA (would like to someday, but one career at a time…*smiling*). Nor am I a BSA employee or professional. I am a longtime BSA volunteer, having served at the local through the national level. I serve the BSA through two local Councils: one based in Europe and the other based in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St.Paul

    With regard as to what direction the BSA should go into, I’m going to leave that to those volunteers entrusted with working through this issue. The BSA has come a long way in accommodating everyone — and still has a longer way to go, if you’d asked me.

    The BSA had separate but attempted equal programs for Jews, Catholics and African-Americans (Blacks) in its history and did away with them nationally in the mid 50s. There were a few Southern local Councils which attempted to hold out until the early 70s.

    The BSA also was the instigators in allowing young women to become Explorers (now Venturers) in 1969.

    It was only since 1978 that the BSA allowed females to serve in all volunteer positions and to be employed as executives.

    In ALL of those cases, it wasn’t a group of professionals which made this happen; it was a group of VOLUNTEERS who stood up and said “this isn’t right and let us figure out how best to make this work!” They did.

    I have no doubt that the BSA will do the same with this issue, which as I stated earlier, has implications in a nation which has become more tolerant and receptive to the LBGT community and its members.

    Thanks for the compliment, however…

    • Mike-

      For the record, I’ve missed your posts to the email group you were participating in last year. Your knowledge of the program never ceases to amaze me.

      With that said, I have to say our number one job as leaders is to provide a safe environment for our boys to explore and grow. Note, I did not use the phrase ‘sheltered’. Because, in today’s world, the issue of LGBT families and youth is no longer something that we can simply brush under the carpet and ignore. Is it right for us to sit in judgment? Is it decent of us to cast a blind eye towards the truth that families exist today in definitions that did not clearly exist 50 or 100 years ago?

      I have my doubts that the current policy by national is the correct one for us to continue to abide by. Teaching tolerance, kindness, and love is not something that can be part-time. It has to be done with understanding and a belief in doing what is right – even if some don’t always agree.

      Would people be angered by a change in the policy? Yes. No way around it, there are those that fear change and can’t accept a more open mindset. But I think it’s time for us as volunteers to open ourselves to examining a policy that has come under fire again and again. We are not the KKK. We are not Nazi’s. We are an organization that preaches the belief that we are doing our best to help the next generation develop into adults able to make moral and ethical choices.

      How many Tiger cubs know their sexual orientation? I doubt many do. They know they like Pokemon and learning how to tie their first knot. Who gives us the right to deny them…or anyone else, the many lessons that are available through Scouting?

      Last note I want to make before riding off into the sunset on this topic. I hear a lot of, “If they don’t like it, they can start their own program.” Does anyone have any conception of how nearly impossible that task is? There have been attempts – but all have failed. And not for lack of trying.

      It’s time that the BSA starts to listen to it’s youth, who we’re here to help and stops listening to adults who are fearful of change.

      • One other note – I want to remind everyone talking of the ideals of the Order of the Arrow. Brotherhood, Cheerfulness, and Service.

        Brotherhood is not something that is part-time. We talk about loving our fellow man (man being an all inclusive term here for mankind). It’s not an act we believe in halfway. It’s all the time, without condition.


        (Previous post went up before I could get my full name in there, I’m not hiding that I don’t care for the policy and I think it’s time for a national discourse on the topic.)

  20. BLUF (Bottom Line, Up Front): The National policy has not changed. To use a recent term, BSA has instituted its own version of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” So long as you exercise good judgement around the Scouts – and scouters – this will not be an issue. With that, I have sent Scouters home for exercising poor judgment with regards to members of the opposite sex.

    Every organization will have its own unique issues. Homosexuality vs Hetrosexuality is one of them for us. If you feel uncomfortable around those who have a different viewpoint….you are a volunteer, you can choose to move on. If you choose not, then you become Sisyphus, rolling the rock back up the hill.

    On a personal note. I don’t give a damn if the Volunteer leader is homosexual or not, as long as they can provide a good program. But…..any volunteer who makes a move on my sons….

  21. There is now a crack in the armour of the standards of scouting. Scouting will never be the same. Even if that voting individual, and we should know who that is so we are able to protectect scouting from them, were to leave scouting the door has been opened. Unfortunately, I do not have total confidence in Texas to put Scouting and Scouting Standards ahead of political correctness. Noone in scouting can believe that homosexuality, pedifilia or any other perverted way of life has an appropriate place in what scouting teaches. To do so only shows hypocrasy and that can not be allowed. This is not a perfection thing or blah, blah, blah. As adult leaders we are role models. We are looked up to by youth and adults. An individual can associate with whomever they want, but to bring standards not in harmony with The Boy Scouts of America is totally inappropriate. As for anyone who thinks homosexuals are ok in scouting but would get upset if they tried anything with your kid, and how selfish is it that they care only for thier own, you get what you ask for and allow. I pity your child because you will allow them to be put in that situation. Fortunately for them I will not.

    • “Scouting will never be the same.”

      Hmmm… Where have we heard that before? When BSA started allow Jews into Gentile troops? When BSA started allowing Catholics into Protestant Troops? When BSA started allowing Blacks into White troops? When BSA started allowing women into leadership positions of BSA troops?

      All of those were actual changes to BSA policy that were predicted to cause the “end of Scouting as we know it” when they occurred. All of those predictions were wrong.

      In fact, if BSA *hadn’t* made those changes when they did, it would have been a weaker organization as a result. The same is true about changing its homosexual membership policy as well.

      • I appriciate your taking time to read and respond to my comments, however, we are not talking about a particular race, creed or color. We are expressing our concerns about allowing individuals to infiltrate BSA and change our standards. Standards that are designed not only to protect the scout but all who participate in scouting. Those individuals, be it homosexuals, pedifiles or drug pushers, have standards that are contrary to the basic tenent of any mainstream religion or moral society. Yes there are offshoot groups that accept anything and they too should not be allowed to sponcer a BSA organization. Do I seem like I profile and discriminate? You bet I do. I expect my scouts to DO THIER BEST. I will not accept meadiocraty. I push them and they push me. They expect me and the other leaders to protect them and we do. We let the boys go out and be boys getting dirty, have sword fights with sticks and go swinging on a rope over a river in November. If one fell in they knew assistance was there if needed. My scouts know what I will tolerate regarding questionable actions. They know that when I strongly suggest something might not be appropriate that it should no longer be consider. And on only one occasion have I had to call a parent regarding the action of thier son on a long term camp. Some may say that opposing views are good and develop character. I agree. Those with opposing views that choose to change BSA standards is a warning that the advisary is working overtime to corrupt and destroy a comprehensive program that mold young men to be thier very best. Young men of honor and conviction. And before you ask, yes, those with opposing views of the straight aspects of scouting are only out to destroy scouting. Even if they happen to lie thier way to the rank of Eagle, was presented The Silver Buffalo Award or obtained a paid scouting position. And by knowing those opposing views we are able to stand firm and defend that which is right, but by no means do we have an obligation to embrace those differences. That’s enough hot air for now. Hope you have a nice day.

  22. Would play golf, or looking into pornography, or being an enthusiast of gardening at all hours someone “who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA.” What a weird and retorted way of expressing this! Why is that something normal in most of Scouting organizations is no absurdly rejected by the BSA?

  23. I have watched this blog a good part of the day from my phone. I have never replied to, or even really read them. But this took a lot of media attention here in Central Fla. since the National Meeting was held here.
    Lots of valid points, but being gay isn’t accepted by everyone. I for one don’t fully accept it, I tolerate it. I have friends who are gay, they understand this and don’t think anything of it. I have that right. I have heard from families about being turned away from scouting for being an Aethiest. Is it fair? No its not. But the BSA has the right to turn anyone away. Thats what makes this country great, we have the right to choose to participate/ or not to, in things we want to do. Private organizations have the right to say who they will accept and who they won’t.
    Disney will not hire you if you have tattoos. As someone who knows this policy,and having tattoos, I am not gonna raise a ruckus for disney to hire me. I am sick of organizations bowing to pressure from groups to overturn their policies. Someone has to stand up against these bullies and tell them “NO, these are our values, these are our beliefs, these are our rules and policies.” I stand behind what the BSA does, I think its a great program for the boys. I chose to be a volunteer, I have “read the guide to safe scouting”, do I agree with everything, no but as a volunteer, I choose to abide by the rules of the BSA. If I didn’t agree and chose not to abide, I would…
    A) Not join
    B) expect to be kicked out.

  24. This long drawn out adjustment might well have already occurred if the “fringe” instigators had just let it happen in “due course”, just as has been noted regarding African Americans and so on. But, by making it a blatant demand in the public arena, and the support of well funded groups that have become such PC media darlings, it has made it worse. It had always been dealt with on the local level, as leadership and membership was designed to be; that is by the sponsoring institution. By making it into the public spectacle it has become, and constantly bludgeoning the BSA with it, they forced National to make a high level call that probably pushed the evolution of the whole thing back 20 years. We have always had Gay individuals in the program, but because it was not thrown in the faces of the units and their membership, just like the more usual hetero relationships are not, it really was not a huge problem.

    Once the Dale decision was made, and BSA was supported by the Supreme Court, the defeated propagandists have found whatever way they can to belittle and undermine the BSA. Most successfully more recently of course is the atheist issue.

    We can adjust, or possibly actually revert to already pretty much acceptance from before the public push by Gay rights groups. It will seldom be a problem, and if it is, will be dealt with on the unit level most of the time. That is the best course of action I believe.

    However, in the case of the atheist attacks, that cannot happen. Scouting’s very foundation is based on a spiritual element. Without it, it is no longer Scouting. Those that make wild statements about international scouts do not really know much. There are more world groups with far stricter religious and sexual restrictions than there are those more accepting. The world scouting groups do not just include Europe and the Americas; nor do they include just Christian, Muslims, or Jews. Just about every spiritual belief is likely to found somewhere in the world associations. And, of course, our policy is such that almost any spiritual search meets the requirement; thus the myriad religious emblems.

    Because of the atheist issue, and government restrictions relating to them within schools and so on, we will not likely see BSA being sponsored by these entities going forward. ACLU has been very successful in pushing the envelope to the point where most school support is from parents, but from outside the school. Use of the facilities can not legally be restricted, unless it is equally done across the board. So, some schools have used this as a reason to ban any outside usage, while others have upped fees to the point where only a few are willing to pay. Recently, the ACLU has begun trying to force Explorer groups out of police and fire departments; and they have had some success already, because they know the cities do not have the will or funding to fight it. Exploring was put in the less restrictive LFL, which actually meets the government strictures; but the ACLU has decided that since it is a subsidiarity of BSA, that they still are not within the law. Whether that would actually hold up in court is questionable, I would think; but, as noted, the government would rather just role over, because it is too divisive and expensive.

    • I struggle with this. I really dislike excluding boys from being involved in Scouts. There is so much to offer them in the organization. But, yes, there is a huge spiritual element. Heck, we struggle with it in our own family because our religious beliefs are our own. I, personally, cannot fathom atheism, but I can’t condemn someone because of it, either. I can’t see denying a child just because they’re being raised an atheist. It doesn’t mean they don’t value the things Scouts are taught to value.

      • Actually, being an Athiest, or being taught those beliefs, do conflict with the words …”To do my Duty to God…” . That way of life for that young man is the responsibility of his parents and BSA should not be forced to lower and change its’ standards to please those who do not agree with those standards. If anyone feels that BSA is wrong then start your own organization and do whatever you like regardless of how it affects anyone.

  25. I hate it that certain groups such as that evil hate group that calls itself a Baptist church from Kansas persecutes gays. In time, I believe most Americans will come around to the view that gays are no more likely to abuse children than other straight adults; and that those individuals who are attracted to the same sex did not do so by choice. The Supreme Court is also posed to hold Congress cannot ban civil unions and that gays deserve protection under the law including the Equal Protection Claus of the 14th Amendment that guarantees that the government must not make irrational distinctions between classes of citizens. I’ve known many gays including an Eagle Scout that discovered he was gay after college. Aside from their sexual orientation the gays I know of are indistinguishable from other Americans. They are unique individuals –good, bad, smart, foolish, kind, self-centered etc. in the same way that non-gays come in all types. In short, I’m more liberal than many that will read this because I believe in a government policy of ending irrational discrimination against this group of Americans whether that is based on prejudice, religion, or custom. And yet, I fear that for the BSA to get caught up in this divisive political agenda would harm the organization the same way that this contentious issue has split churches and religious denominations. Local scout troops would lose charter organizations and volunteers. The Supreme Court held as a private organization the BSA has a First Amendment right of free association. While there are some superficial similarities between the civil rights movement and the gay rights movement, the theological divide is greater between liberals and conservatives on this issue. The BSA should concentrate on its core character building mission and avoid at all costs divisive social issues that can only distract and cause ruptures within local organizations, charter organizations and membership. Embrace change that makes scouting relevant but don’t commit organizational suicide.

  26. At the risk of getting into the middle of this quagmire, it has been said by people much wiser than myself that if you don’t like the way things are, do your part to change what displeases you. The Scout that began this petition on behalf of the leader in question is doing just that, and should be applauded for his efforts, as he is being true to his uniform.

    We all confront policies from time to time we may not agree with, but they are there to serve either the company’s interest (i.e., “no refund without a receipt,” “minimum age 21″), or the organization’s membership (“,,,age 50 and over…”). What about the veteran wanting to join the VFW who only served 27 days in Korea? Why can’t everyday civilians join the American Legion? The BSA is a private organization and as such will undoubtedly have policies someone somewhere will claim as unfair.

    There is also the “bad apple” crowd. If people were all honest and sincere, we would have no need for background checks and membership policies. It is because specific individuals have abused (sorry, bad pun) the membership policy, have had ulterior motives, or perverse notions about their membership that such policies have been deemed necessary. For some policies to change, people will have to change.

    The danger of creating quick exceptions to policy is that a precedent may be set which opens the door to specific undesirable individuals being allowed to join the BSA, which would negate any benefit of the BSA Youth Protection Policies. The BSA membership policy may eventually change, but due to this caveat, I wouldn’t hold my breath.

  27. Please specify what your definition is of ‘specific undesirable individuals’. I’m a little bit curious. The reason I ask is the YP guidelines are designed to offer safety for the youth, and I don’t see how between that and the Charter’s final veto power on any adult leader would be compromised by a change in National’s policy on this topic.

    • Charles Featherer You did not leave me a reply option on the allowing girls in the BSA regular BSA. The Venturing program is a offshoot within the BSA program and I know many girls in the program and it does work. This program is well staffed and their are adequate chaparones to monitor the program. What I was referring to was changing the program to allow girls to be in traditional Troop programs and campouts. It would require more staff and chaparones to facilitate the program. This is not apples and oranges it is reality. Adding girls just plain wouldn’t work. The LDS Church will never allow a mixed gender program in their Scout programs even in Venturing or Exployer programs and the Church makes up a lot of members in the BSA program. The Church does provide an all girl program it is called Young Womens the age is 12 to 18 and provides campouts and other activities that provides wholesome and moral value to their lives. Sincerely, Trenton Spears

      • Anyone can reply…I think we just reach the limit of what this blog allows. I wasn’t disallowing it as I think an open discussion here is important.

        That wasn’t exactly clear to me in your previous post. But allow me to make two further statements.

        1. AND YET…Training programs such as NYLT are now co-ed for staff and participants, requiring no further additional training. That’s just one example that shows that the whole fear of liability is out of place in this discussion. No more additional staff is required. Many other countries have made Boy Scouting co-ed for years, including the source country – England. So perhaps we won’t see eye to eye on this, but I think that a little bit more acceptance here is warranted to try something new.

        2. The LDS. (While we’re at it, let’s not forget the Roman Catholic Church). Both are tremendous sponsors of the program. But, I will submit that they are NOT the program. I’m not either. And if their particular values were to become mandate, I’d leave the program as they don’t work for me personally. I think the whole ‘fear of the 800 pound gorilla thing (ladies and gentlemen, metaphorically speaking only – I respect many people who are active in or come from these backgrounds) in dealing with the LDS is a bit silly. The LDS is an organization that charters from the Boy Scouts – not the other way around. The BSA should never be afraid to make a decision that would prove unpopular with a given segment of it’s constituency out of fear of a loss of money, members, or more. It should feel compelled to do what is right. And continuing to disallow membership on this basis doesn’t feel, right, it doesn’t feel friendly or courteous. And it certainly goes against the idea that we are a world ‘Brotherhood’ of Scouting.

        Feel free to reply again – I’ll find it even if it’s not on this thread. I’m not sure I’ll continue to debate this though, I’m actually quite tired of this argument. You see, I’m not sure that National would ever ratify the current suggested Resolution – but not for the reasons you list. I probably mentioned this elsewhere, but the idea that one Council could opt in while another opted out makes me think of a house divided. And if it’s one thing that people fear, it’s a change in the belief that the BSA should be an agency uniform in its policy.

        • Trenton wrote several things I just had to take the time this evening to respond to.

          He wrote in part:

          “The Venturing program is a offshoot within the BSA program and I know many girls in the program and it does work.”

          No, it’s NOT an “offshoot” of anything. Venturing was created whole-cloth, taking the best ideals from the previous Exploring programs, combining it with the best of the contemporary Exploring program with the earlier Explorer Scout program and adding some LDS-centered elements. Now in it’s 12th year, Venturing has allowed a lot of young women and men (the latest set of stats I’ve seen says that the Venturing is 72 percent female and 28 percent male nationally) to experience a different Scouting program but not unlike that of Boy Scouting.

          “What I was referring to was changing the program to allow girls to be in traditional Troop programs and campouts. It would require more staff and chaparones to facilitate the program.”

          No, not really. We already have several thousand female Scoutmasters, so we’ll just have to add some more males to come along. You do realize that the BSA is almost split (again the last time I saw numbers) and tilted toward more females than males in our Boy Scouting program??

          “Adding girls just plain wouldn’t work. The LDS Church will never allow a mixed gender program in their Scout programs even in Venturing or Exployer programs and the Church makes up a lot of members in the BSA program.”

          Huh? When most LDS Venturing units (we don’t have Exploring any more; we have given it to the Learning for Life Corporation back when we created Venturing) are mixed-gendered…and led by *females*…I think that the LDS (and the Southern Baptists!) are just fine with Venturing.

          To get this string back on the topic, however — I still feel that when the BSA makes their leadership/membership decision, Trenton, you and those many others out there a bit uncomfortable with even *talking about it* (hence the diversion of the topic), will find that the BSA will still honor the aims, methods and purpose that we’ve had since 1911.

  28. Take a look at the Scout Handbook – the place where the rubber meets the road. The Scouting movement is focused on turning young boys into well rounded men. In the United States, the Scout Handbook is the tool we all use to guide us in this transformation. I took a look in my Handbook (12th edition) to find out about what Scouting says about “Sexual Relations” (P. 120). The paragraphs here are in the section of the Scout Promise, under “Morally Straight” and, basically, talks about Sexual Responsibility. The most explicit suggestion is abstinence for sex with girls. I could not find any mention of any other kind of sexual activity. As far as I can tell, that’s all there is about sex or sexual orientation in the Scout Handbook!

    Why not more? Because there is too much other stuff involved in the Scouting objective. It’s not being ignored, it’s just not all that important! True, parents are probably more concerned that a leader is or is not gay rather than if he votes Republican or even about what faith he subscribes to. Youth Protection is aimed at protecting Scouts from sexual situations, not politics or evangelism (though the results are the same).

    I was going to write more, as some contributors have done. But, you know, in my Big Picture for Scouting, it’s a waste of time. Just as the Scoutmaster just might be a Libertarian, or even a homosexual, if he will just focus on Scouting’s ideals, and we work together to produce competent men, we have done our job.

    • There is more to BSA’s teaching than what is written in the BSA Handbook. In BSA’s sworn testimony to the Supreme Court in 2000, it was asserted that BSA “teaches that homosexual conduct is not morally straight”. The Court’s judgement allowing BSA to exclude gays is based on this assertion.

    • Interesting site. They are, however, violating BSA’s trademarks. I’m surprised National hasn’t gone after them for that. I’m sure it’s coming. Here’s a list of BSA Trademarks:

      It appears to me that the trademark infringement is purposeful. Intent does matter when it comes to damages.

      If you are part of BPSA, I would suggest that you contact its leadership to make changes that do not infringe on BSA’s legal property.

      btw, I’m all for alternative Scout associations — it keeps BSA true to its mission.

      • @KS -

        My point was quite simple … if you want an inclusive Scouting program – it is out there.

        No reason to re-make the BSA.

        • Completely agree with you. Those who do not meet the joining requirements or do not agree with the tenets of BSA have a lot of other choices. When some felt that BSA “relaxed” their religious requirements, Royal Rangers opened their program to all Protestant churches, and is thriving. Parents who disagreed with BSA’s policies on homosexuality, paganism, and inclusion found a safe haven in Spiral Scouts, which has grown from one circle in 2001 to an international organization today. As GSUSA’s militant positions became more widely known and documented, AHG has taken off like wildfire.

          Alternatives DO exist. I think, in many cases, it’s that some people want the benefits of BSA without the responsibilities. Kudos to parents who want to be involved in their kids’ lives. Shame on those who use them for political purposes.

        • A Scout is Obedient… 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.

          Re-making unfair rules is part of the Scout Law.

  29. Charles, ‘specific undesirable individuals’ refers to potential child abusers who may, through any change in policy, be allowed to somehow loophole through the background checks and authorizations. I don’t oppose any change in membership policy for the BSA, but simply caution that any membership policy changes would have to be looked at from every twisted angle to make sure the bases are covered first. Criminals and criminal lawyers love loopholes.

    It is usually the parents who oppose gays in Scouting, as they apparently assume all gays are automatically out to abuse their children. Gays are not criminals. The gay individuals I know would be unjustly accused. It doesn’t change who they are as people. Like discrimination against women or African Americans, the acceptance of gays in our society will not happen overnight.

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