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The Boy Scouts of America’s ‘family discussion’ on our membership policy

When the Boy Scouts of America reaffirmed its long-held membership policy last June after months of media coverage and national attention to the issue, some leaders thought that signaled an end to the conversation.

Not so, as you no doubt know. As BSA President Wayne Perry recently said, many unit-level volunteers weren’t aware of the policy before the reaffirmation. “What we discovered as your Key 3 was that it started a very intense conversation,” he said.

In that eight-month conversation, Perry emphasized that he didn’t speak with outside special-interest groups with no affiliation to Scouting. Instead, he said, “I heard only from Scouters, people with different views than my personal views.

“It was hard, because people told me their Scouting commitment, and it touched you, it touched your soul. These are good people. They are people of faith that have a different view than I do.”

That’s why Perry, Chief Scout Executive Wayne Brock, and National Commissioner Tico Perez — the National Key 3 — have launched what they call a “family discussion” that’s set to take place over the next three months.

Who’s invited? The National Key 3, chartered organizations, council and district volunteers and professionals, volunteer committee members, and Scouters and Scouts. National committees are now receiving directions about how to proceed.

The result of this “family discussion” is expected to be a resolution presented in May at the National Annual Meeting (NAM) to the voting members of the national council, a group consisting of volunteers from every local BSA council who have already been named as voting delegates. Much like the Electoral College, the number of delegates is based on a council’s membership; larger councils get more voting delegates.

Nothing has been decided. The resolution, which will be distributed to voting members at least 30 days before NAM, hasn’t been written. That’s what the “family discussion” among volunteers and professionals will help create.

Why now?

This dialogue didn’t come out of the blue. The reaffirmation prompted the National Executive Board to launch discussions about the issue, including a conversation about potentially amending the policy to allow chartered organizations to accept Scouts and Scouters consistent with their organization’s principles or beliefs.

And throughout this dialogue, national commissioner Perez said he’s heard from passionate Scouters on both sides of the issue. Out of that passion, emerged something positive.

“At the end of the day, we’ve learned one thing: We are the Boy Scouts of America. America cares about who we are. America cares what our brand is. America cares about what we do, and that’s the silver lining in all this,” he said. “That’s pretty special —17,000 emails in five days.”

A big tent

Scouting’s a big organization. We’ve got 2.7 million youth and 1 million adult members. You’ll find packs, troops, teams, ships, posts, and crews in all 50 states and even some in Scout units overseas. As is true of our country as a whole, Scouts, Scouters, and Scout parents have diverse beliefs about a number of issues — religion included.

“We’re a big tent,” Perez said. “We accept and welcome all faiths. There are a lot of faiths in this movement.”

And Scouts are taught to respect others, regardless of any perceived difference. That’s why Perez, Perry, and Brock each stressed that they aren’t pushing Scouters to take one side or another. They’re merely presenting the facts and helping to empower stakeholders to make an informed decision and do what’s best for the BSA.

The Key 3 has “one singular purpose in mind: to grow Scouting,” Perez explained. “To take Scouting to as many boys and girls as we can in America. To make certain that we who are America’s last, greatest hope continues to thrive over the next 100 years.”

What now?

When the BSA announced on Feb. 6 that it would begin a three-month review of the membership policy, it also vowed to leave no stone unturned. That means committees will review the concerns of youth, chartered organizations, and parents, in addition to discussing financial, fundraising, and legal concerns.

The goal of the three-month review? According to the BSA, it’s to:

  • Ensure a channel for every voice to have an opportunity to be heard
  • Receive feedback from the field
  • Educate Scouting’s members
  • Define core values
  • Identify members’ concerns

Here’s a timeline of what to expect over the next three months:

  • Planning (Feb. 6-28): The BSA defines desired process and intended outcomes.
  • Listening (March 1-April 5): BSA committees engage key stakeholders for input and the development of assessments.
  • Evaluating (April 5-17): BSA officers review committee reports and prepare a resolution that the National Council voting members will act on at the National Annual Meeting in Grapevine, Texas.
  • Educating (April 18-May 24): The reports and the resolution are shared with the voting members of the national council and the Scouting family.
  • Deciding (May 22-24): The BSA conducts on-site information sessions for voting members at the National Annual Meeting, and a vote takes place.
  • Implementing (May 24 and on): Based on the results of the vote, the BSA will determine and implement the next steps for the organization.

A Scout is Courteous

A difficult decision faces the Boy Scouts of America right now — that much is clear. Our national Key 3 — Perry, Brock, and Perez — said they’ve already spent 100 hours a week talking to others and responding to emails and voicemails. The BSA’s National Council office received an outpouring of feedback on both sides.

What’s more, Scouting’s volunteers and professionals have devoted (and will devote) equally long hours to studying the issue. You have to applaud that. One clear certainty about this issue is that everyone has an opinion on the best course of action, and each opinion has value and should be heard.

So as we proceed, let’s remember that courtesy and respect for those with whom we disagree will help us work together to make One BSA that will last for generations to come. We can disagree on a variety of topics while still working together to change the lives of youth through Scouting.

We’re all here for the boys and girls of this movement, and we owe it to them to cast aside our preconceived notions and come to the table with one ultimate goal — doing what’s best for the youth we serve. The next century of Scouting depends on it.

Online: www.bsamembershipstandards.org

1,587 thoughts on “The Boy Scouts of America’s ‘family discussion’ on our membership policy

  1. Those of you who want to keep the ban: Why will you not talk about BSA’s declaration of religious principle, that it is absolutely nonsectarian? Do you understand that there are many of us *inside* Scouting who adhere to religions that morally reject this ban? How can you reconcile “absolutely nonsectarian” with the position that BSA must uphold the beliefs of your church and not the beliefs of mine? Why do you want BSA to be the arbiter of what is correct religion? It is okay with this long-time Scout leader (Cubs through Venturers, council committees, Wood Badge Course Director) if you think my religion is wrong. It is not okay that you want BSA to tell me that my religion is wrong and to give up its long-held principle of nonsectarianism.

    • Karen,

      First, the BSA’s historical position excluding homosexuals is not based on “a Scout is reverent.” It is based on “morally straight,” and “a Scout is clean.” Moral opposition to homosexual conduct is not solely based on religion–there are also strong secular moral arguments against it.

      Second, there is no nonsectarian middle ground in this debate. Some denominations teach a religious obligation to uphold the sanctity of marriage and avoid and discourage sexual immorality of all forms, and a special religious obligation to avoid leading children into immorality. Some other denominations have recently proclaimed new religious obligations never before taught in 6,000 years of Judeo-Christian religious tradition–the obligations to celebrate same-sex relationships and to oppose “discrimination” against homosexuals. There is no “nonsectarian” answer to this conflict. Either homosexuality is “morally straight” and “clean” or it is not. Discrimination against homosexuals on the basis of their conduct is either unjust or it is not. To the extent that these moral views also reflect sectarian positions, one sectarian view is going to be imposed on the organization.

      Why should it be yours and not another?

      • I do think there is a nonsectarian position, and that is the proposal to let chartering organizations make their own sectarian decisions. This is not “middle ground” or “compromise” — it is remembering that BSA is not the arbiter of what is true religion. We welcome Scouts of all religious traditions, not just the Judeo-Christian tradition. We ask youth to follow the teachings of their families and religious communities; we should not ask them to violate their duty to God as taught at home and at church.

        • Moral acceptance of homosexuality is the narrow, sectarian position of a small number of Christian denomonations and revisionist splinter factions of others. Why is it that BSA should adopt your sectarian view over the views of others?

          And specifically which “duty to God” are you implying BSA asks youth to violate?

        • Dennis, the argument is that the BSA should adopt a strictly non-sectarian view of this issue. No one proposes that it should endorse *any* sectarian view at all. Your question can be re-directed at you… Why do you believe that the BSA should adopt your sectarian view over the views of others?

          Your statement that acceptance of homosexuality is practiced in a “small number” of denominations and “revisionist splinter factions” is telling…

        • Also, Dennis, I can’t claim to speak for Karen, but what I believe she meant (and how i see it) in stating we are asking scouts to violate their duty to God is that if their family and church teach that homosexuality is to be accepted, then it violates these teachings to ask them to discriminate against homosexual individuals in scouting.

        • Yes, Dennis, remember that the BSA says that *we* do not teach a Scout what his duty to God is; we encourage him to practice his duty to God as taught at home and in the faith community.

          My 20-year-old Eagle Scout & Venturer was taught in his Sunday School classes and confirmation program that welcoming gay people into our church & community just as we welcome others was part of his duty to God. He stayed in Boy Scouts because I told him that our unit would not discriminate. The issue didn’t come up for him again until BSA reaffirmed its position in July, and since then, he has been struggling with what to do. If the position is reaffirmed, I am sure he will leave BSA, and probably forswear his Eagle.

          My 17-year-old Venturer went to World Jamboree, where she saw a very different picture of Scouting. She has served on our Boy Scout camp staff for two summers, the happiest times of her life. She will be on NYLT staff, camp staff, and a National Jamboree crew this summer — but she struggles with this policy and her duty to God. If the policy is reaffirmed, she will certainly decide to leave BSA, despite her very deep attachment to the organization. She will not be able to reconcile it with her duty to God.

          My 13-year-old Life Scout is watching this process very carefully. He did not realize this was an issue until last summer’s decision. He wants so badly to be an Eagle like his brother. But he is also struggling to keep the order right: God, country, Scouting. He’s on his way to National Jamboree, too, but he is very worried about whether he should leave BSA in obedience to God.

          I want you, Dennis, to teach your family and the youth in your church duty to God as you and your church understand it. I have no desire to make you change your beliefs. The protection of your right to believe as you do is sacred to me. And I will stay in BSA no matter what. I am a past Wood Badge Scoutmaster, and the work I do within BSA is one of the most important parts of my life. I believe I can continue to do my duty to God, while praying that BSA will recognize all of our right to follow God as taught in our own faith communities. But it deeply saddens me that my own children feel that they cannot do the same — because they feel BSA requires them to violate their duty to God by asking them to reject those whom their church has told them to welcome.

        • Wow, Karen, you have precisely stated exactly how I feel about the issue. Thank you for this well thought out entry. And thank you for your service to Scouting, and to the boys in your area.

    • But you know what the BSA policy is and you still decided to join and to stay. And all was well as long as no one raised a fuss. Now that some folk want to change the policy the free-riders are coming out of the woodwork. Why not form your own organization that will allow whatever it is you want that organization to allow? Should BSA also consider allowing members who refuse to say the Pledge of Allegiance? The Jehovah Witnesses do so and have their own youth organization. There is the so called “Traditional Scouting” movement. And please don’t compare being homosexual to the experience of African-Americans. There hasn’t been one day when I didn’t wish I could have stayed in the closet as a Black man! Not! I hope you get my point.

  2. Perhaps it would be useful to split this conversation into two topics: (1) Position on allowing youth who state a personal view and (2) Position on adult leaders who state a personal view.

    My troop committee discussed this issue when it broke earlier in February. At the time, I voiced my opinion which surprised a few. Namely, if a youth came to me and state he felt he was homosexual that in itself should not make him ineligible for membership. We are after all in the business of helping shape young people to be better adults. I stated that I did not feel it was my place as a scoutmaster to try to be a counselor to the young person sexual topics, but would encourage them to have an open conversation with parents and religious leaders if possible, or some other trusted relative. As far as the youth’s membership, my only position would be that their conduct within scouting needed to be appropriate and not create a negative environment – and that was the same regardless of what sexual orientation the young person might feel was where their life was headed. So in short, a youth could be a member regardless.

    As for adult leaders, I stated my concern about openly allowing homosexual adult leaders. Adults are setting an example and a role model. Without saying a word, adults teach things are “ok”, and that’s where the problem with gay adult leaders will come about.

    • Excellent post, SM.

      I think the situation that bothers Scouters and Scouting families most is the case of the young Scout who is struggling with same-sex attraction, but who has not committed to a homosexual lifestyle or entered into homosexual relationships. I personally do not think a Scout in this situation has run afoul of the Scout Oath and Law. While I value reserving discretion for Chartering Organizations and local units, specific procedural guidance from BSA National HQ differentiating between same-sex attraction and homosexual behaviors, and clarifying that expulsion is not REQUIRED simply on the basis of a declaration by a Scout that he is struggling with same-sex attraction would go a long way toward resolving the most troubling aspect of this policy.

      • So I’m curious. Scenario: Your son has earned all his merit badges, completes his Eagle project, and during his Eagle BoR, tells the Board that not only has he been “struggling with same-sex attraction”, but has recently engaged in homosexual behavior with a fellow Scout. Does his Eagle package get rejected?

        • My view is that it depends. I’m not sure how/why it would come up, but if it did and the scout recognizes that the behavior is immoral and is sincerely contrite regarding his behavior (i.e., not just exhibiting remorse because it might affect whether he gets Eagle or not), then I would be willing to consider those as mitigating factors.

          I would apply the same approach to a situation where a scout admitted other immoral behavior not of a sexual nature (e.g., stealing, cheating, lying, etc.),

          Of course there is more to an Eagle BoR than just any single issue, so it is possible that the recommendations or answers to other questions might reveal something else that on its own or in conjunction with other factors could cause me or other members of the board to reject the application (e.g., admission that he is an atheist). Even then, it can be appealed up the line to district, council and national who might take a different view of the factors.

        • I have served on Eagle BOR. This scenario would result in the candidate being asked to leave the Board and he would be disqualified. Why is this hard? There is a reason for rules and standards in Scouting. This candidate id immoral, untrustworthy and unclean. He might be a hell of a candidate otherwise but he fails on the points above. Did he tell his Scoutmaster? How does the Scoutmaster feel about sending up a dishonest candidate? How about the folks that wrote his recommendations? did they know. dishonesty all over the place. How could Board not disqualify him?

  3. I wish someone would bring up the elephant in the room. Sleeping logistics. If you are familiar with Venture Scouting, you know there are very specific rules. How in the world would you orchestrate this in a camping situation with homosexual scouts? Camping is a very intimate event. Not just sleeping, but showering, etc. It is prime for bonding relationships.

    Concerns, in general, about this situation are not based on hate or discrimination. It is about an intimate community that surrounds children. Much fear exists as to how this could affect the well-being of current Scouts. Let’s not brush their fragility aside.

    • Celeste wrote and asked: “I wish someone would bring up the elephant in the room. Sleeping logistics. If you are familiar with Venture Scouting, you know there are very specific rules. How in the world would you orchestrate this in a camping situation with homosexual scouts? Camping is a very intimate event. Not just sleeping, but showering, etc. It is prime for bonding relationships.”

      Okay. I am bringing it up for you. Let’s look at the way things occur NOW: we have no clue as to which Scouts are “gay” or “straight”. We count on our Troop and Patrol youth leadership to assign tenting/sleeping arrangements. If a Scoutmaster is assigning tenting/sleeping arrangements, I feel that there’s a lot more going on than just “sleeping arrangements.”

      Now, let’s add to this the knowledge that a Scout is “gay”. The Scout may state this or his friends knows this because of school or church or both. You really think that this would matter? I don’t think it will matter in the slightest. This kid probably have had sleepovers with those other kids or they are so used to the idea that it won’t bother them at all. Despite what you feel, Celeste, “gay” guys are not out there trying to “score conquests” — it’s not like being around a vampire, whereby you can become a vampire just by hanging with one…*smiling*

      No, where the issue will come to blows with is between adults. Adults need to remember that this is a youth program, a youth game.

        • Your premise is a little far fetched. A boyscout who has realized that he is gay is pretty unlikely to prey on his fellow scouts while he sleeps. The terms you are throwing out are not associated with scouting in any way. You’re being intentionally inflammatory.

  4. The back and forth over whether or not homosexuality is immoral is missing the bigger question.

    The bigger question is: Do we want BSA to teach about sex?

    The only way for BSA to continue legally banning gays from membership is for BSA to continue to assert, as they did in 2000, that BSA teaches about sex.

    No matter what your view about homosexuality, I think there are very few people who really want BSA to be teaching about sex. Sex education should be left to a Scout’s family and church. Sex education does not belong in BSA.

    You can believe whatever you want about homosexuality. But we all can agree that sex education does not belong in BSA. Get the teaching about gays out of BSA, and put the issue back where it belongs, with the family and local chartering organization, so they can address it as they see fit.

    • Perhaps you have not read the Family Life Merit Badge Handbook. The FL MB is required for Eagle. There is a prominent section on the responsibilities of marriage and fatherhood. See http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/BoyScouts/AdvancementandAwards/MeritBadges/mb-FAML.aspx. Recommend you check out the actual Handbook, as the online outline does not accurately represent the extent to which the HB discusses preparation for marriage and fatherhood.

      I would not consider this teaching about “sex,” in that it is not focused specifically on the mechanics of sex acts. It is about family responsibility, and to a certain extent sexual responsibility. In particular, it is aimed toward preventing teen pregnancy and fatherlessness children.

      You might also find it enlightening to review the references BSA provides on this subject, which DO pretty clearly teach about sexual responsibility and sexual health, including sexual orientation (although ironically in a morally neutral way). See specifically:
      http://www.preparetomorrowsparents.org/home.html
      http://teenshealth.org/teen/sexual_health/#cat20016

      • Dennis, I really appreciate your thoughtful comments and compassionate attitude about this subject – even towards those you disagree with. ESPECIALLY towards those you disagree with.

        I haven’t read the hard copy of the Family Life handbook (my oldest son has just started Boy Scouts), but it sure looks as if the online version could be completed by a young man who is himself gay, or by a young man with same-sex parents.

        (I think of the two boys in my pack who have “two-mommy” families – and we’re a pretty suburban, mainstream, conservative community. How will they earn that badge? Actually, I think they won’t have any problems!)

        The last two links you provided are really good, and I note that they each contain many supporters of gay marriage among their directors and contributors. The Teens Health site contains a thorough and fair discussion of sexual orientation:
        http://teenshealth.org/teen/sexual_health/guys/sexual_orientation.html#cat20016

        BSA will not need to change any of its policies – not even its merit badge handbook, I expect – if it simply allows individual chartered organizations to set their own policies on this matter.

        • Yes, perhaps. Get the hardcopy. Requirement 7 in particular is completely focused on the responsibilities of a husband to a wife and a father to his children. These responsibilities are utterly alien to the homosexual lifestyle.

        • Rolf,

          I’m concerned about the teenhealth.org link for the very reasons you like it. I don’t consider it to be either fair or complete, as it does not discuss the significant negative mental and physical health consequences of homosexual behaviors.

          Better would be http://downloads.frc.org/EF/EF11J33.pdf or http://www.frc.org/content/getting-it-straight-1.

          But it cannot accurately be said the the BSA program does not address the issue of marital responsibility and sexual orientation, despite claims of many critics of the policy.

        • Dennis, I know many gays that have children. How would that responsibility be “utterly alien to the homosexual lifestyle”?

          Besides the wording could be changed to “husband to spouse.”

        • Deanna,

          I know we are not going to agree on this. Let’s at least be agreeable in our disagreement. I don’t pretend that I will convince you that my position is the correct one. I’d settle for demonstrating that it is rational, informed, and not motivated by hatred or ignorance.

          I am aware of gays who have children as well. Most homosexual men who are fathers come into those circumstances by abandoning their wives and the mothers of their children to pursue instead homosexual relationships. Likewise many lesbian women who are mothers come to their circumstances by rejecting their husbands and the fathers of their children to pursue their own same-sex relationships. Not exactly a model of marital commitment and fidelity.

          Wondering if you are considering the need for children to have both mothers and fathers who are bound to them by both law and affection to provide security and biological identity.

          Increasingly homosexual couples are seeking to adopt or seek surrogacy. These situations have serious bioethics problems as well. Recent research (see Mark Regnerus’ recent New Family Structure Survey) shows convincingly that children raised in households under homosexual parents suffer negative outcomes in a wide range of indicators of physical, mental, and emotional health compared to children raised in intact biological families. Surrogacy offers the prospect that women will be exploited as human incubators for homosexual men seeking children.

          Consider also the instability of homosexual relationships. Monogamy is almost unheard of among male homosexuals, and is also rare among lesbians. While Hollywood and the media glamorize the lives of homosexuals, research shows the reality of their experience comes with many negative social and health consequences.

          For more, see http://www.frc.org/content/getting-it-straight-1.

        • Just as my son, who is raised in a household with a single mother, can learn about what the role of a father is, so can a boy raised in a household with two mothers. A boy raised in a household with two fathers can as well. I don’t understand your argument here. We don’t exclude scouts based on their parent’s sexual orientation. Why do you consider their ability to complete the Family Life merit badge an issue here? I HAVE read the hard copy of the booklet. I am a MB counselor for Family Life.

          A gay scout, by the way, may someday be a father. He also may want to consider what his future role, as a father, may entail. That’s the purpose of having think about the role of a father within a family… to help prepare them for their future.

        • “Requirement 7 in particular is completely focused on the responsibilities of a husband to a wife and a father to his children.”

          So are single-parent households banned from BSA?

        • Dennis,
          You are right, we are not going to agree. I will say that I find this comment rather, gee, I don’t know what to say to this comment – I guess I am appalled.

          “Wondering if you are considering the need for children to have both mothers and fathers who are bound to them by both law and affection to provide security and biological identity.”

          Coming from a family that has many adopted children that are loved, that have parents (mothers and fathers) that are bound to them by both law and affection to provide them with security but cannot provide them with biological identity. It saddens me to think that someone would feel that my family should be considered less than a proper family or risking the best interest of the children because they are not biological.

        • As a counselor for Family Life, I have always taught that one of the key contributions families make to society is the teaching of beliefs and values. We discuss this as a way for society to have future adults who behave in respectful and acceptable ways.

          I think you are correct that gay youth and or parents can effectively help their scouts earn this badge.

      • Family life is not the same thing as sex A gay couple can get married, and a gay man can be a father. All of the requirements in the Family Life Merit Badge can apply equally to gays as well as straights.

        Morally neutral discussion about sexual orientation would be appropriate, although it would seem to contract BSA’s 2012 policy statement which states that BSA does not introduce the topic of homosexuality into Scouting, and BSA does not discuss homosexuality in any way.

  5. Black Hat. Merriam Webster defines a bigot as a person who is intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices. Certainly seems to be a term germain to this discussion and not a characteristic we should be teaching our sons.

    • How thoughtful. It so happens that etymology (the study of the history of words, their origins, and how their form and meaning have changed over time) is a minor hobby of mine. Please bear with me.

      RIch, in responding to you, the term “bigot” is also applied elsewhere; for example, in computing: “Real bigots can be distinguished from mere partisans or zealots by the fact that they refuse to learn alternatives even when the march of time and/or technology is threatening to obsolete the favored tool.” This assumes that refusing to adapt is lacking in merit. This does not apply to everything, including those “timeless values” we keep referring to as BSA’s marketing slogan.

      The definition you use could just as easily apply to one for “conviction” or “principle.” The history of the term, which originated with the French at the expense of the Normans, renders its use as a description of one’s character as dubious at best. “From the 15th century on Old French bigot meant ‘an excessively devoted or hypocritical person.”‘ Bigot is first recorded in English in 1598 with the sense ‘a superstitious hypocrite.’” (thefreedictionary.com)

      So, a person is a bigot simply because they have a strong opinion about anything, from which they refuse to bend. This could apply to those on either side of this issue.

      Which brings us to the description of being “intolerant.” Is it a good thing to tolerate evil in the world, in whatever form it appears, so as to go along with the crowd? Is this a “timeless value” worth teaching? Bishop Fulton Sheen (the original televangelist, for what it’s worth) once wrote in a 1931 essay:

      “America, it is said, is suffering from intolerance. It is not. It is suffering from tolerance. Tolerance of right and wrong, truth and error, virtue and evil, Christ and chaos. Our country is not nearly so overrun with the bigoted as it is overrun with the broadminded.”

      (At this point, I would quote G K Chesterton, who said: “The purpose of an open mind is the same as that of an open mouth, which is to shut it down on something solid.” Now, to continue with Sheen …)

      “Tolerance is an attitude of reasoned patience toward evil … a forbearance that restrains us from showing anger or inflicting punishment. Tolerance applies only to persons … never to truth. Tolerance applies to the erring, intolerance to the error … Architects are as intolerant about sand as foundations for skyscrapers as doctors are intolerant about germs in the laboratory.

      “Tolerance does not apply to truth or principles. About these things we must be intolerant, and for this kind of intolerance, so much needed to rouse us from sentimental gush, I make a plea. Intolerance of this kind is the foundation of all stability.”

      So then, to stand for something as a truth, or as a good as opposed to an evil, is to be intolerant. There are those who make that seem like a bad thing.

      • It seems that in your legthy and flowing response you’ve chosen to ignore the word “prejudices”..in an attempt to try and turn intollerance into a word you can freely embrace. I dont feel that intollerance or bigotry, however you chose to phrase it, is something we should chose to teach our sons. Whether it flows from hatred, or ignorance, or some other place, it is unhealthy and damages both those who practice it and those they practice it against.

        • To disagree with someone, or to disagree with the behavior of someone, is not the same as to hate them. I hate no one. And I do not live my life, or lay down my life for time-honored convictions, on the basis of what someone else may “feel,” especially when they accuse or insult me without cause or ever having met me. What I wrote was an honest and sincere attempt to address your statement, and I stand by it.

        • To disagree with someone is fine. Moving to exclude them , which is what you are doing, is not. Im sorry if that hurts your feelings.

        • All organizations which have a particular goal are, by their nature, “exclusive,” inasmuch as they *exclude* those who espouse philosophies or conduct at odds with those goals. If I were to join the local Lions Club, or a similar organization, and tell those who determine whether to accept my membership, that I have no intention of engaging in community service, but need this membership to better establish business contacts, my membership would more likely than not be rejected. I could rightly say that they have adopted what is often termed (in the case of the BSA) as “exclusionary policies.”

          Your offensive remarks toward me do not hurt me. They are of no benefit to you either.

        • manwithblackhat- Your dissertation on verbiage notwithstanding, you subsequently said “I do not live my life, or lay down my life for time-honored convictions, on the basis of what someone else may ‘feel,’ especially when they accuse or insult me without cause or ever having met me.”

          Well, that is exactly what the current policy does. It presumes that a homosexual boy or his parents are inherently immoral or non-religious, without ever meeting them, getting to know them, or seeing how they interact with others.

        • Bob:

          In the conventions of formal debate, the onus of proof is not on the status quo, but upon the challenger. You wouldn’t know that by how this discussion has gone in the past few months, and not just in this venue. Yes, people who do not accept the objectives of the organization, and how it achieves them, are at some point being excluded. I provided an example of how and why that is the usual way of things. I ask that you read the example I provided, and address that more directly. Thank you.

          (By the way, I must confess that I have not witnessed so much interest in joining Scouting since the period between 1945 and 1955. How is it that the Boy Scouts have become such a coveted organization? Must be those cable shows about “Tougher Than A Boy Scout.” Or something.)

        • Really, Rich? It is wrong to “exclude?”

          So how could you possibly stop with inclusion of homosexuals? We must also include girls, too, right? And what about atheists? How about drug abusers? And why should we exclude boys older than 18?

          On what basis can you possibly find a moral obligation to always include everyone in everything? That is the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard.

      • I think that true tolerance does not rest on defending immutable truths. It does rest in the appreciation that the heartfelt beliefs of another person are worthy of understanding.

        Tolerance does not imply acceptance. It does require us to carefully listen to others.

        I am hearing you say that excluding homosexual scouts and leaders is a timeless value which warrants intolerance..You implied that this does not represent bigotry, but perhaps is a statement of principle, which you have also suggested is worthy of intolerance.

        Your final comment suggests that people are criticizing you for having heartfelt beliefs. I hope that is not a truth. The purpose of this discussion is to review the beliefs we hold as critical to scouting.

        I would add to your comments that a truth, value, or principle that is timeless does not suffer from being examined and discussed. It does suffer when it is not explored in the light of current understanding. It does suffer when it is not shared with the sincere hope that the listener will understand. I think we are required to discuss our truths in respectful ways if we have any hope of finding a universal truth, which allows cooperation and growth.

        I had not appreciated the closing often written by scouters with more years in scouting than I. They often close messages with ‘Yours in Scouting’. I think I understand it better now. I would invoke that sentiment in the hope of understanding between us.

    • Rich,

      It seems that you have the prejudiced view that all moral opposition to homosexuality is based on ignorance or malice. You seem to dismiss the possibility that any who support the current policy do so based on sound moral reasoning, medical or social harms, or conscientious religious obligation.

      The view that homosexuality is immoral has been the majority view in America until 2010, if you believe Gallup. And it still reflects the majority view of married, churchgoing Americans, as well as many medical doctors and mental health professionals.

      In my experience, those who use smear tactics such as reflexively labeling people as “bigots,” “homophobes,” and “intolerant” are just seeking to demonize the views of others and shut down honest and open discussion.

      I would hope that we can teach our sons critical thinking and mutual respect instead.

  6. What about the openly homosexual person who nonetheless lives a celibate life, attends a church that considers homosexuality to be a disorder, and personally struggles with his or her homosexuality? Disqualified from Scouting simply for having and openly acknowledging the homosexual inclination — even if he or she does not want it?

    • I do not believe that the celibate, repentant homosexual should be excluded. I do not believe Scouts should be excluded simply on the basis of a struggle with same-sex attraction. I do not see any reason why such a person could not in good conscience commit to the Scout Oath and Law.

      I also do not believe the current policy REQUIRES exclusion of such people, although due to the lack of specific policy guidance by the National BSA HQ, many interpret the policy this way. It specifies that “avowed and open” homosexuals are ineligible for membership.

      Specific procedures clarifying BSA’s “red line” regarding this policy to aid local Councils and units in fairly applying the policy without overly constraining their ability to exercise discretion and judgment would go a long way to address the most widely held and legitimate objections to this policy.

  7. As a former Scouter, Cubmaster and current/active ASM …. if we TRULY believe in, and uphold our Youth Protection Policy, this is a non issue. Don’t limit the Scouting experience and opportunity – share it.

    • Kurt,

      This policy is not primarily based on YP. It is based on the BSA position that homosexuality is in conflict with the Scout Oath and Law, specifically “morally straight” and “a Scout is clean,” and that homosexuals are not suitable role models for Scouts.

      Recommend you review the Supreme Court decision in BSA v. Dale (2000) at http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=000&invol=99-699 for a very good and concise outline of the BSA’s rationale for the policy.

      • Exactly, Dennis. BSALegal.org used to have a whole section on this — I can’t locate it any more.

        The day Scouting affirms homosexuality as morally straight is the day it dies. I hear that Royal Rangers is setting up a “Welcoming Arms” program for those units that recognize that homosexuality is incompatible with Scouting. What will happen if BSA caves is that Scouts will become the Big Brothers organization of the Millennium. Make no mistake; those who uphold the original intent of morally straight will leave. And that will leave a very different organization for the next hundred years of Scouting.

  8. If the conversation on this blog is representative of the larger conversation on the proposed policy change, it appears that this change would destroy scouting from within. This is the larger concern here. The larger “culture war” going on in the country will continue, but is destroying Scouting part of the agenda? If so, and all of us love Scouting, is it worth sacrificing scouting on the altar of this policy change?

    Honestly, this policy change could destroy scouting by driving away families and sponsoring organizations..

    Is this what any of us want? Is anyone saying, “Change it or it doesn’t deserve to exist?”

      • Compare to the experience of Scouts Canada, which dropped its membership policy excluding homosexuals, atheists, and girls in 1998. In just 5 years its membership plummeted from 300,000 to 130,000.

        Keep in mind most Scouts come from churchgoing families. Our organization implicitly recognizes a “duty to God.” If you want to consider the relatively low rate of attrition to the much larger downward trend in church attendence among Americans you might be much closer to a major driver.

        I suspect attrition of those who dissent due to the exclusion of homosexuals are in the noise compared to other causes, and probably also falsely magnified by the Hawthorne Effect.

        • I am confused by your referrence to the Hawthorn Effect. Explain please how you think it is applicable in this matter.

      • This issue isn’t the driving force in the drop in membership. It is things like sports, video games, and a loss of interest in being outdoors. Nothing wrong with sports or video games unless they take ovr the person’s life

    • Why is does the presumption always seem to be that changing this policy would “destroy Scouting” or “drive families away”?

      Who’s to say that the exact opposite might happen instead? Perhaps eliminating this exclusionary, judgmental, prejudicial practice might actually strengthen Scouting, and see a huge influx of families who have felt shut out until now? We haven’t seen a mass exodus from our military following the elimination of DADT.

      Wouldn’t THAT be ironic…

      • Great data on the decline of Canadian scouts. I would think we would have a similar decline here, where units would be torn apart with the debate going on here, and many who reject the proposed change would be uncomfortable being called bigots and just leave. Could scouting continue with a revenue base half what it is today?

      • Bob it would be both ironic and surprising. Pretty unlikely given that a vast majority of scout troops are sponsored by churches. We’d have to see replacement of lost church-sponsored units and recruitment of boys from families not today affiliated with scouting. Other than churches and organizations like the Elks Club and Rotary, there just aren’t a lot of organizations that would sponsor Boy Scout troops. A few schools sponsor Cub Scout troops but I’ve never heard of a Middle School sponsoring a boy scout troop. Benevolent organizations like Elks and Rotary are conservative by nature. Churches also. So where could the growth come from?

        Dennis’s data about the decline in Canadian Scouts should be a central part of this debate. Few nonprofit organizations like Scouting can suffer a 50% decline in participation. The fixed costs are too high. Scouting would have to shed scout ranches and pay its executives half of what it does today (i would not be opposed to the pay change).

        Scouting would change forever. Not a good thing for the youth of America who have few role models and support organizations helping them grow into men. Scouting replaces fathers in many cases, where fathers are not present. It provides structure that many youth need today. This is all at risk.

        • I certainly hope the argument doesn’t come down to one of money. If any decision is made based primarily on a fear of losing financial support from religious and/or conservatives groups, then we’ve got bigger morality problems than homosexuality.

        • Bob it’s not ultimately about money. It’s about the Judeo-Christian view of morality. That’s why the debate is heated, and why I believe Scouting will stumble and fall if it changes its policy.

          Unfortunately, morality-based arguments are falling flat because the morality argument is ridiculed as bigoted. Money is the least common denominator, and anyone with any level of business acumen will understand the devastating impact a material decline in membership will have on Scouting. The question then becomes, does Scouting deserve to continue to exist if it continues its current policy.

          It’s a big deal, because Scouting does a tremendous amount of good. If Scouting is asked to please everyone, its decline or demise will please no one.

        • Bob, this is about money. Gay activists have strongarmed corporations and the United Way to defund the scouts in an attempt to make the scouts change the policy of the organization to be more in line with their personal beliefs.

      • Bob, if you ask PARENTS rather than people who read about this and other discussions on pro-homosexual boards, you’d know that most of us will take our sons elsewhere, and with them our volunteer time. We are most of the volunteers, most of the committee members, most of the district go-to people.

        BSA is the best program out there for molding young men — it will no longer be so if the morally straight clause is twisted.

        • KS, I have asked parents. Those that I have spoken with embrace the change and will stay. I have also spoken with parents who have children that they haven’t allowed to join, because of the current policy. They will now join.

        • I know many parents that look forward to the change and their spouses will finally fill leadership roles when the ban is lifted.

  9. All,

    In the 21st century, with scientific evidence that homosexuality is not a choice but an instinct, that still people hide behind their religious beliefs to justify their bigotry.

    We must remember, that Scouting is not equal to Christianity. Scouting embraces many, many world beliefs. Some of these beliefs embrace the scientific evidence and thus accept homosexuality. Thus, Scouting enforcing this policy goes against these faiths.

    Anyone who states that homosexuality is a choice, I ask them to try to recall a time where a friend, loved one, or an acquaintance woke up one day and said, “I think heterosexuality is boring, and I think I’ll be a homosexual”. Many are initially terrified to come out of the closet, because they knew the implications. In Scouting, we should never foster growing boys to face such a scary situation for something they have no control over.

    We are not being “friendly, courteous” or “kind” when we impose these situations on fellow scouts, and/or their parents who wish to volunteer. Nor are we “helping” them by excluding them.

    I also want to address “Morally straight” for a moment. The 1998 Boy Scout Handbook defines it as:

    “To be a person of strong character, your relationships with others should be honest and open. You should respect and defend the rights of all people. Be clean in your speech and actions, and remain faithful in your religious beliefs. The values you practice as a Scout will help you shape a life of virtue and self-reliance.”

    An interesting excerpt – “Defend the rights of all people”. There is no exclusivity there. The “straight” part is not a reference to “straight vs. gay”.

    In conclusion, I ask each of you that threatens to leave Scouting is homosexuals are allowed, to look inside yourself and ask yourself whether just quitting is in line with your goals to teach your sons persistence through adversity? Does it teach your son to openly communicate his beliefs and opinions, or to just run away to be around like-minded individuals? If you feel like being at camp with a homosexual who is also tasked to live by the Oath and Law, and follow all Scouting regulations is worth throwing away everything that Scouting has to offer you and your sons, then that’s your choice, but Scouting will go on and it will still make men out of boys. We allowed women to become leaders, yes? Women are normally attracted to men, yes? How is a homosexual man any different?

    I write this, with having homosexuals and bisexuals in my family, all of whom I would trust my children to, and all of whom are upstanding citizens in their communities. They are people, who live, breath, and care for the world around them. For the sake of the boys who want their parents to participate and the future boy scouts who may discover that their homosexual while marching down the trail to Eagle, I humbly ask my fellow Scouters to reconsider the official BSA position.

    • Richard,

      A very thoughtful post. I hope you will also consider with respect and goodwill the position of those who disagree with you as a matter of conscience.

      The BSA’s rationale for exclusion of homosexuals, as stated in BSA v. Dale (2000) is that homosexuality is incompatible with the Scout Oath and Law, specifically, “morally straight” and “a Scout is clean.” Though you are correct that “straight” in the Scout Oath is not intended as a synonym for heterosexual, it is clearly intended to discourage all forms of immorality, including sexual immorality. Recommend you read http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=000&invol=99-699.

      Many who oppose homosexuality on moral grounds do not do so out of hatred or ignorance, but out of love for those who struggle with homosexuality and have lived with its consequences, and out of a deep commitment to the institution of marriage as the highest form of human sexual expression. I have several homosexual friends as well as a few ex-gay friends who have left the homosexual lifestyle. I have seen the personal wreckage in their lives as a result of their lifestyle choices and the things they have experienced. I would not wish those consequences on my sons or anyone else’s.

      To many of us on the other side of the debate, affirming homosexuality is to reject not only sexual responsibility and health but male identity. That’s not why I bring my boys to the Scouting program. A BSA that cannot affirm responsible manhood has surrendered its primary mission.

    • Well said Richard. I too have family that is homosexual and would never question their love and devotion to my children. My sons have regularly been left in the care of their gay cousin that lived with us.

  10. I see this as THE civil rights issue of our time. Just I would have been heartbroken had BSA been on the wrong sides of the issues of voting rights for women or equality and integration for blacks, I will be heartbroken if BSA remains on the wrong side of equality for gays. 50 years from now, there will not be a discussion of whether gays have a right to equal treatment (it will happen), but people will remember if BSA opposed and obstructed the change.

    • The “civil rights issue of our time”? Really? Have you ever known an African-American that had to decide to come out of the closet? If the organizational aspects and comradeship inherent in scouting is what is important then why not start an organization that is openly receptive of equality for homosexuals? And just to forestall any rejoinder about African-Americans doing likewise, re-read the first sentence (question).

      • The fact that there are differences between being homosexual and being African-American doesn’t mean this is not a civil rights issue. There are many examples, however, of black men and women that could ‘pass,’ meaning that they were so light skinned that they could appear white, and did so, to ease their hardship. Gay rights issues simply *are* about civil rights. Gay people are people. They deserve the same rights as every other person. That’s the bottom line for me.

        In regards to starting a new scout organization for gay people? Why? BSA is already here. Gay people who want to be scouts aren’t looking for a place to be gay. They’re looking for a place to be scouts.’

        • “The fact that there are differences between being homosexual and being African-American doesn’t mean this is not a civil rights issue.”

          According to Alveda King, the niece of Dr Martin Luther King Jr, it is not the same thing. “To equate homosexuality with race is to give a death sentence to civil rights. No one is enslaving homosexuals … or making them sit in the back of the bus.” (The Advocate (743): p. 8, September 30, 1997) Or perhaps you can explain why Black churches took the lead in upholding the proposition in California that defeated same-sex marriage, or why when the NAACP came out in favor of gay rights, the heads of various state chapters vigorously begged to differ.

        • Man/David

          Did I miss a notification that informed the world that Alveda King was recently appointed to the position that only she can determine what is or is not a civil rights issue.

        • “Did I miss a notification that informed the world …”

          I didn’t get the memo either, Deanna, but if I had to choose between the two of you, on who is more qualified to speak to the issue …

        • manwithblackhat –

          Coretta Scott King, the wife of Dr Martin Luther King Jr, has referred to gay rights and gay marriage as a civil rights issue. This article I’m referencing is almost 10 years old… http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/2004-03-24-king-marriage_x.htm
          It is correct to state that homosexuals aren’t being enslaved or forced to sit in the back of the bus. They are, however, being denied basic human rights.

          My explanation as to why black people in California voted for prop 8 back in 2008 and why black churches are in favor of upholding it is that they are churches. A lot of churches tend to teach that homosexuality is wrong. Not all churches, mind you, but a lot of them. I disagree with the premise that we should allow church doctrine to dictate local, state, or federal law. Or BSA national policy, for that matter.

        • I think that John Lewis is qualified to speak on what is and what is not a civil rights issue seeing that he is one of the “Big Six” (along with Martin Luther King, Jr) in the Civil Rights Movement.

          Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, for instance, wrote, “I’ve heard the reasons for opposing civil marriage for same-sex couples. Cut through the distractions, and they stink of the same fear, hatred and intolerance I have known in racism and in bigotry.”
          http://www.ontheissues.org/GA/John_Lewis_Civil_Rights.htm

          Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, for instance, wrote, “I’ve heard the reasons for opposing civil marriage for same-sex couples. Cut through the distractions, and they stink of the same fear, hatred and intolerance I have known in racism and in bigotry.”
          http://www.examiner.com/article/ga-rep

        • Actually you didn’t respond to the two most recent posts. Your silence speaks volumes, not responding to two posts citing prominent civil rights leaders equating gay rights with civil rights. Thank you.

        • Beth:

          And speaking of bloviating …

          After seeing the same arguments, and the same responses, more times than I can count — go ahead, count them — it occurs to me that people such as yourself are less interested in talking *to* someone, than you are in talking *at* them, or merely *past* them. I can only conclude that you have more time on your hands to beat a dead horse than I do. That is what my silence says in volumes, whether you can figure that out or not.

          For every man or woman of color who would equate the gay rights agenda with that of blacks in America, there is another who does not. When the NAACP ruled in support of gay “marriage,” they were met with several pastors who headed state NAACP chapters, all of whom begged to differ. I chose Alveda King, as she is the most suitable person to have carried on the legacy of her uncle, Dr Martin Luther King Jr. (His widow, Coretta, died five years ago, and is in no position to speak to the issue at present.)

          “My explanation as to why black people in California voted for prop 8 back in 2008 and why black churches are in favor of upholding it is that they are churches.” Well, gee whiz, Beth, just where in Sam Hill do you think most of the civil rights movement originated? It wasn’t the local Moose lodge or a bridge club, it was in the churches. To this day, most political activism among the African-American community originates in black churches. No one dares to accuse them of mixing church and state in this instance, nor should they. The very concept deifies their own history.

          Now, try to come up with something original, will you please? Otherwise I’m just going to have to keep “speaking volumes.”

        • You really have clearly spent an awfully lot of time on here as well, in all fairness…

        • Mr. Alexander, asking you to respond to a question is bloviating?
          My point was that there are many civil rights leaders that do equate gay rights and civil rights. I don’t see how the fact that Mrs. King is deceased negates the fact that she was a supporter of gay rights. She believed that her husband would have been a supporter of gay rights as civil rights as well. There are certainly a plethora of individuals claiming to know what Dr. King would have thought about any number of issues, but I believe we can likely trust what his wife says more than any other.

          I am well aware that black churches have historically been very involved in the civil rights movement. That black churches are in many cases against gay marriage doesn’t mean that gay rights aren’t civil rights.

        • “Mr. Alexander, asking you to respond to a question is bloviating?”

          It depends on how the question is asked. At least it proves that you can dish it out, but you can’t take it. Please reconsider your posture in this forum, and do not introduce such terminology to begin with.

        • “Which terminology? Bloviating? That wasn’t me.”

          Well, somebody around her used that to describe me. I spend a lot of time reading on this issue, including material with which I might not agree. Obviously I don’t take kindly to being described that way. Allow me to find the miscreant and get back to you.

    • Homosexuality will NEVER be accepted as normal sexuality in this modern day, the modern day on March 1, 1013 or on the future modern day of March 1, 3013. It is timeless; as timeless as all the truths written in His timeless Word to humankind, The Holy Bible.. it goes against the grain of the human soul which isn’t going to change either. all this debate, anger, discussion, destruction of traditions etc. to accomodate the wishes of a tiny tiny minority of people who are already free to behave in any manner they wish. I don’t understand why people that chkose not to comply with an organizations membership standards are so insistent on becomming members? If you disagree with the character of the organization then why would you be so adament o joining something so disagreeable to you? or is the intent more than just joining but to destroy a standard in order to tout that victory as another step closer to ttaining the unattainable acceptance that homosexual behavior is an abomination against the creation of God. The level of acceptance desired will never be realized because it goes against the core of human nature. It’s truthful and a Godly truth shared by Him in His Word to all of us, your free to choose to believe it or not.. Your Freedom; am I allowed to have mine??

      • I accept homosexuality as normal sexual behavior, and I am not alone.

        Thank you for granting your permission for others to believe as they choose. Of course, you are allowed to have your freedom to believe as you choose as well. The difference here, is that you, along with your right to believe as you wish, desire to have the right to exclude others. No one has proposed that you *must* be gay in order to be a scout. If that had been proposed, that would be similar to what people that want to exclude gay members wish to see continued.

  11. So it’s ok to arbitrarily judge a child/parent/family that you know NOTHING about, as long as you’re doing it “in good faith, sincerity and conviction”?

    If that’s the lesson being pitched with this debate, then I am troubled, saddened, and Scoutings’ days are surely numbered.

    • Why do you say “arbitrary?’ We are an organization with a moral code. Some acts are judged to be consistent with teh values of Scouting, other acts are judged to be inconsistent with those values. Homosexual acts are considered to be inconsistent with “morally straight” and “a Scout is clean.” You may not agree with this, but it has been the organization’s clearly expressed position for 103 years, and certainly since you joined it. This is hardly arbitrary.

  12. The consensus seems to be that “sexuality” has no part in Scouting. As a Cubmaster, with three boys actively in Scouting, I feel having a policy that discriminates based on sexuality, actually brings sexuality into the mix, when otherwise it would not be! Furthermore, boys who start as Cubs, likely won’t realize for maybe 10 years down the line, that they might feel different that the rest of the boys, just as they are working actively toward Eagle Rank. Is it honorable to deny them of this opportunity when otherwise they have dedicated their lives to Scouting and it’s principles?

    • If they are engaging in homosexual behavior, then yes. They no longer meet the requirements. Not every boy is meant to be an Eagle. Only those who meet the requirements. Substitute any of the other things that exclude them from becoming an Eagle, and you can see that it’s not only honorable, it’s just.

      • Does a heterosexual boy that is engaging in premarital sex with a girl disqualify himself from becoming an Eagle?

  13. I am a mother of two boys who LOVE scouting. I am a Christian. I am a Pediatrician. I interact with children every day of my life and it is my job to advocate on their behalf. I truly hope this organization will rethink the long-standing prejudices that have been institutionalized in the name of family values.

    Every child deserves to feel loved and accepted for who he or she is, regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. When this does not occur, our society loses the chance to maximize that child’s potential and we all suffer that lost potential whether we realize it or not. Sexual orientation is not a lifestyle choice, but rather an inherent aspect of one’s personality. It cannot be prayed away and it cannot be treated. Gay people have families and they have values.

    It is too soon to declare with certainty that my children are heterosexual. I have my opinions, but time will tell. As their mother, it does not matter. I will love them unconditionally and want the best for them in life. I want them to be exposed to positive role models and have every opportunity to explore new skills. I want them to love themselves, have healthy friendships, grow up to be men who can love others and make positive contributions to society. I hope they will become good leaders and, someday, good fathers. I do not want them to ever be ashamed of who they are and I do not want to teach them to judge or hate others.

    I have tremendous respect for The Boy Scouts of America and agree very much with the core values. I hope my boys will be active scouts for years to come. However, the exclusion of boys and men based on sexual orientation is inherently hateful. Please send a clear message to our youth that hate and exclusivity are not BSA values.

    • Many other Scouting families consider homosexuality to be immoral and destructive based on sincere moral reasoning, religious principles, and well-documented adverse medical and social consequences.

      Though their views differ from yours, they are entitled to respect. It is unfair to prejudge the views of your fellow Scouting families as “inherently hateful.”

      • I agree with you on that, Dennis. They are entitled to respect, even if some (such as Mike C) do not always respond in kind but refer to people like Jeanette and me as “Homosexual Infiltrators.”

        That is why the compromise to allow those families to belong to units chartered by organizations that adhere to those views, while allowing other families with different views (and religious beliefs) to belong to other units with different chartered organizations – just like BSA is doing successfully now with LDS and traditional units. That is really all that is being proposed.

        • Rolf,

          The “local option” compromise is not viable. It is a chimera. It will not end the controversy and it will not protect the ability of chartering organizations who oppose homosexuality to exclude homosexual Scouts or leaders.

          Gay activists have already stated that “local choice” does not go far enough and that they will settle for nothing less than a national policy prohibiting any BSA unit from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.

          Further, dropping the national policy would undermine the legal rationale from the BSA v. Dale case which upheld the First Amendment right of the BSA to set membership policies that aligned to the values it sought to instill.

          Instead of ending the controversy, “local choice” would simply shift the focus of the harrassment, litigation, and boycotts from the resource-rich national Council to the more vulnerable local councils and Chartering Organizations.

        • Rolf, that doesn’t make sense. The LDS units do not compromise the integrity of the program. They adhere to the same requirements. To say that an inclusive/exclusive distinction would work is to effectively have two separate organizations. They are incompatible.

          Right, Dennis. This is just the “first step”. It will not end here. This will go one of two ways — it will be decided once and for all, and no more time and money will be wasted on studies; or BSA will fall, and other organizations will pick up the slack. I’m betting on the former.

      • The proposed policy respects the views of those who view homosexuality as immoral as well as those who don’t, by allowing this decision to be made at the level of the CO. Why do you believe that your views of what is moral and what is not should supersede what others believe?

    • “inheriently hateful”??? wow! that seemed like such an ironic change in attitude when describing someone with an opposing viewpoint.. I don’t describe myself as hateful just because I think allowing homosexuals into the BSA will cause all sorts of problems. Is it so necessary that homosexuals be included; seems there are so many other equally suitable organizations to become affiliated with. I think people that disagree with how an organization is run should be respectful of those policies used to run that organization and assume those policies were put in place for good reasons and a purpose. I think people who are on the outside of the BSA or new to the organization should respect those policies and seek to understand why their in place; probably good reasons.. your comments seem short sighted to me… “inheriently hateful”? that just seems rooted in such a hateful and angry attitude against anyone with a differing opinion? think?

  14. The naivete here would be comical if the stakes weren’t so high.
    Many of you in favor of allowing gays continually shout that homosexuality is not pedophilia. You are correct, but that statement has no bearing on the matter: Pedophilia ends where puberty begins.
    All Venturers, all Explorers, all Sea Scouts, and Boy Scouts as young as 10 (puberty is beginning earlier now than any time in history) are of no interest to pedophiles. They are sexually mature/maturing young men, not children, and they are not of interest to pedophiles; they are of interest to -gay men-. The legal definitions of child/adult do not apply in regards to pedophilia/homosexuality, the -biological- definitions apply.

    “But two deep!” you say. More naivete. Would you let a fox into the chicken coop because you’ve put a wicker muzzle on it? No. But you would put our sons in the woods with men whose statistical proclivity is toward young, virile, teenage men. Why would you put our boys at risk? To make yourself feel better in a land of unicorns and fairies where nothing bad happens because people are intrinsically good. Comical, tragically comical. Let me tell you, “two deep” means much more to gay men than you ever want to know.

    Google “Boy Scout Queen” (with quotes) and see if your skin doesn’t crawl. Google “254 Boy Words” and see if you don’t wretch.

    • The term you are asking for a second time to be looked up has nothing to do with scouting. It is an old term from the 70′s and is inappropriate for this conversation. Again it has nothing to do with Scouting.

      • So in your naivete you believe that homosexual culture has radically changed, even though their historians hail “The Queen’s Vernacular” as central to homosexuals’ identity (as the language they speak) and “firmly remains a form of homosexual slang.” (Shilts, 1994)
        The fact of the homosexual male obsession–as demonstrated clearly in their language–with youth and specifically the deflowering of and initiation of young men has -everything- to do with Scouting as we decide whether or not we want to welcome them among us.

        • Again it is a 40 year old slang term and your claim (through the citation) that it “firmly remains a form of homosexual slang” is nearly 20 years old. Not exactly relevant.
          It is possible that it was not a relevant term then or in great use. For that matter it could be a regional slang.

      • It doesn’t have to do with scouting? It certainly does. Where do you think gays who came up with that phrase got the idea?

    • With all due respect, MN, you are missing the point. Scouting ALREADY “allows gays.” If Scouting’s national leadership truly shared your fear that gays are a threat to our children, it would ask in its applications whether the leader applicants are gay or lesbian, and would perhaps even require references to prove heterosexual orientation. At a minimum it would clearly instruct persons in the application process that “gays need not apply.” But Scouting realizes that there is no such threat, and does none of these things.

      In fact, Scouting doesn’t even give ANY training to its leaders that even “openly” gay persons should not be allowed. There is no such training in Youth Protection, or in any required online or in-person courses – not even Wood Badge.

        • Dennis, I repeat: Scouting gives no training whatsoever to its leaders telling them that “openly” gay persons should not be allowed. There is no such training anywhere. You appear to imply that such instruction should be implied from the Scout Oath and Law, which of course themselves contain no distinctions about “open” or “avowed” gays versus closeted gays.

          BSA’s national leadership has made it a point in recent years, in defending its current policy, of emphasizing that nowhere does it ask any applicants, youths or leaders, whether they are gay – openly or not. Yet you now seem to be claiming that gays are somehow violating the Scout Oath and Law if they don’t “roger up” and answer a question that no one in BSA is even asking them – at least not until they’ve already joined and are about to earn their Eagle when someone decides to sabotage their Scout experience.

        • Perhaps Dennis you need to look up the use of the term “roger up.” In the imortal words of Inigo Montoya “I do not think it means what you think it means.”

        • Repeating a fallacious argument does not make it any truer, Rolf. The policy is clear enough for the gay activists groups and the corporate bullies who are leading the anti-BSA boycott campaign. It is clear enough for the left-wing ideologues who keep trying to pass local ordinances to interfere with BSA’s right to assemble. It is hardly a secret. The application I signed had the Scout Oath and Law listed right on it, along with the membership policy. Perhaps “On my honor” means something different to you. IMHO, if you can’t live with it, you’re just going through the motions of Scouting, not living its values, and you’ve got no real business being there.

        • Dennis, your 12:36 a.m. comment was disappointing. (Most posts late at night are. :-) ) Please don’t get personal like that.

          I am a long-term and current Scouter, Eagle Scout, OA Brotherhood, Wood Badge, my father was a Scout, my brother is an Eagle Scout, I have two young boys currently in Scouting, straight (not that that’s really any of your business), a Sunday School teacher, liturgist, and a God and Me counselor. My wife and I belong to a mainstream Christian church that believes that being gay is a trait and not a sin, and is open and affirming to gays and lesbians. I have met privately with our pastor and prayed with him about this, and my wife and I have prayed whether the right thing is to pull our boys from Scouting, or try to effect change from within. We are definitely concerned about the effect of this policy on Scouting, as well as the potential effect of ending the policy.

          So please, Dennis, we obviously differ on this matter, but do not accuse me, Nancy or others who support this change of ignoring “On my honor” or “going through the motions” of Scouting just because we differ with you. We are certainly not accusing you of that.

        • In a 2000 press release, “Boy Scouting makes no effort to discover the sexual orientation of any person. http://web.archive.org/web/20070126161643/http://www.scouting.org/media/press/2000/000628/index.html (fifth paragraph)
          BSA application forms for youth membership and adult leadership positions do not inquire about the applicants’ sexual orientation and do not mention the BSA’s policies regarding homosexuality. http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/Media/forms.aspx

        • Deanna,

          Of course BSA makes no attempt to discover the sexual orientation of its members. This is not inconsistent with the perfectly legitimate expectation that homosexuals will respect the BSA’s membership policy and interpretation of the Scout Oath and Law.

        • Rolf,

          You misunderstand my previous post. I was not indicting YOUR honor. I am indicting the honor of any adult who would submit an application for membership as an adult leader knowing he or she did not meet the membership requirements.

          My apologies if this was not clear.

        • Dennis,
          I know several ASMs that were shocked to learn that gay youth membership was prohibited. It did not occur to them that a youth could be denied membership. Having multiple individuals (registered leaders to boot) does show that the ban is not fully understood since it is not fully explained.

          This quote is from the first two paragraphs of the article that tops this blog:

          “When the Boy Scouts of America reaffirmed its long-held membership policy last June after months of media coverage and national attention to the issue, some leaders thought that signaled an end to the conversation.

          Not so, as you no doubt know. As BSA President Wayne Perry recently said, many unit-level volunteers weren’t aware of the policy before the reaffirmation. “What we discovered as your Key 3 was that it started a very intense conversation,” he said.”

          Here is the link for the blog so you don’t have to scroll up. http://blog.scoutingmagazine.org/2013/02/26/the-boy-scouts-of-americas-family-discussion-on-our-membership-policy/

          BSA President Wayne Perry recognizes the lack of clarity within the policy.

      • You have seized on your own “training theory” argument lately as if it were a silver bullet. It is a non-starter. The BSA’s membership policy excluding “avowed homosexuals” (antiquated language for open) is well-known and is a matter of fact which has been ruled upon by the Supreme Court. BSA does not inquire as to sexuality because BSA explicitly excludes homosexuals. While youth protection is a fact of the issue, BSA’s main tack has been morality, as such, a closeted homosexual is not transmitting a moral position that runs counter to BSA’s. Youth protection comes to the forefront as naive activists such as yourself begin to force the issue of inclusion.

        • M N, referring to other Scouters who disagree with you as “naive activists” really isn’t productive.

          I don’t know what you mean by a “silver bullet.” The fact that BSA hasn’t trained its leaders as to what “openly” gay means in practice is obviously a problem, But I think the strongest argument by far against the current policy is that it infringes on religious liberty and freedom.

          In fact, the more that some on this thread cite the Bible as being against open gays, and the more they claim that their position is based on (their brand of) Christian doctrine, the more it’s clear that their position is based on their own sectarian theology. And BSA’s own charter clearly says that Scouting is to be “absolutely non-sectarian.” There’s supposed to be room in Scouting for Pentecostalists and Buddhists, Bahais and Hindus, Jews and Muslims, Catholics and Unitarians, Mormons and Congregationalists. Whatever you are and whatever I am – as long as we are reverent and try to do our duty to God – and our country.

          This is a tough issue, no doubt about it. And there’s no easy answer. While the people citing Canada’s decline in membership automatically conclude that Canada’s position on gays CAUSED the decline, that issue wasn’t even mentioned in the one long news analysis I saw from Canada discussing the decline. There’s no proof of a cause-effect relationship, in other words.

          But I do fear a large exodus from Scouting by some fearful or angry people who claim they will take their sons out of Scouting if this change goes through. It seems they can’t even abide the mere POSSIBILITY that some local unit OTHER THAN THEIR OWN might someday allow an openly gay person to be a member or leader. That seems very strange to me – and following that reasoning, why haven’t they already resigned, since most other countries in World Scouting already allow openly gay leaders?

          I hope that eventually cooler heads will prevail, that people realize that this isn’t a radical change – that there’s not some phalanx of hot-pants-wearing, outrageous “gay activists” ready to descend on Scouting if this passes, but instead just a bunch of average people – by far most of them straight – who share Scouting’s true, timeless values but who have been staying away from us in recent years because they don’t like our discriminatory attitude towards some of our brothers and sisters.

        • Rolf, we can definitely agree on the silliness of those threatening to withdraw. I fear it will happen, but I’m not so sure, and I think that anyone who leaves based on this alone is a goof.

        • Rolf,

          Why do you stereotype families who would leave Scouting if the policy is changed as “fearful or angry people”? Why not “principled” people?

          You do not characterize those who have left Scouting or who threaten to leave Scouting because they wish to affirm homosexuality as “angry and fearful.”

          A little more mutual respect, please. This issue becomes a lot more compicated when you seek honestly to understand the perspective of others with a different view instead of demonizing or dismissing them. Not as many strawmen to knock down.

        • Rolf,

          I have never accepted the argument that the BSA’s moral opposition to homosexuality is based on sectarian religious grounds. In fact, the stated BSA rationale for the policy is based on conflict with “morally straight” and “a Scout is clean,” and not “duty to God” and “a Scout is reverent.” Opposition to homosexuality broader than just a narrow, secularian religious matter; it is based on secular moral, social-relational, and health reasons as well.

          But looking at this from the perspective of Scouting’s ecumenical, nonsectarian stance does not resolve the issue as easily as you assert, and may disadvantage your position more than it advantages it.

          First, I would argue that the principle of nonsectarianism does not require BSA to either adopt into its own ethic the sectarian view of revisionist denominations such as UCC that discrimination on the basis of homosexual behaviors is wrong or to adopt a least-common denominator approach toward morality that adopts the view of the most morally permissive religious denominations. Similarly, it does not require surrender to moral relativism–the position that each unit can define any sexual ethic it chooses.

          Second, your argument offers little when considering how BSA should respond to conflicting sectarian religious obligations among its members.

          From a purely religious perspective, you assert a religious duty to oppose discrimination against homosexuals and to affirm homosexual relationships as equivalent to marriage. It is worth noting that these religious duties were never previously recognized in 6,000 years of Judeo-Christian history before emerging in the last few decades by revisionist theologians. Others assert religious duties to avoid homosexual behavior, discourage homosexual behavior in others, to teach their own children to elevate the marital ideal and reject homosexuality, and to avoid leading other children into immorality. These two differing religious perspectives are mutually exclusive ethics, irreconcilably in conflict. You cannot adopt one “sectarian” view without rejecting the other. And the two cannot coexist within the same values-based organization because they each consider the other view to be an evil that must be eliminated as a matter of religious duty.

          So how is a “big-tent,” nonsectarian organization to respond to this dilemma? The most logical way would be to adopt the most mainstream, most widely-held, and most stable religious view that is consistent with the religious obligations of the largest number of prospective members among the largest number of religious denominations. It should also factor in secular moral, health, and social perspectives as well as the purely religious perspectives. Following this logic, nonsectarianism suggests the best course for BSA would be to side with traditionalists who hold that homosexuality is immoral rather than the comparatively tiny number of revisionist denominations like UCC who affirm homosexuality.

        • “The most logical way would be to adopt the most mainstream, most widely-held, and most stable religious view that is consistent with the religious obligations of the largest number of prospective members”

          No. That would simply bias BSA in favor of the largest religions, and leave smaller religions and religious philosophies out in the cold. That is hardly non-sectarian.

          If we follow your strategy, BSA would require belief in the trinity nature of God. Or would teach that woman cannot be head leaders. Those are stable views of the largest number of members, but by teaching them, BSA would exclude Mormons or liberal Protestants, because they are minority religions. BSA’s goal is not to accommodate only the most popular religions, BSA goal is to accommodate all religions.

          The most logical way to be a “big-ten” non-sectarian organization is the way BSA has done it from its founding, outlined in its Declaration of Religions Principles. In short, BSA should focus on the Scout Oath and Scout Law, and leave specific religious instruction to a Scout’s family and religious institutions.

          That is how BSA has been nonsectarian from the start. That is what allowed BSA to accommodate Mormons, Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish members from its origin, many of which never would have become Scouts if BSA had adopted the most mainstream, widely-held, and most stable religious views of its time.

          BSA can only remain nonsectarian if it re-asserts its focus only on core BSA values, and leaves religious details up to each family and chartering organization. That is how BSA was designed from the start. That is how BSA has flourished in the past. That is the only way BSA will survive as USA becomes even more multi-cultural and multi-religious in the future.

        • You don’t sell out your integrity, morals, and principles in the name of “survival”. If the BSA stands true to their morality they will earn a greater respect from the vast majority of their membership who are the backbone of the organization. It doesnt have to be an organization withn no standards just so everyone is “included”.. we’re asking parents to intrust their children with us on overnight and possibly multi night and at times distant campouts and outings.. How do you earn that trust? by lowering your standards of what’s regarded by the vast majority as moral and honorable and right? No.. in fact maybe strengthening the membership requirements to clearly state annual background checks are conducted on all registered adult leaders and other safety training is attained by all registered leader might be helpful.. rather than taking steps backward mayne take steps forward and let it be known more widely all the efforts the BSA takes in providing a quality youth program while providing that program in the midst of the most child protective environment achievable..

        • Dennis, point well taken about my use of “fearful or angry” rather than “principled.” Apologies to any person planning on leaving BSA out of principle if BSA allows any local unit anywhere – even if it’s not a local unit the person belongs to – to ever admit an openly gay person to membership or leadership if that local unit believes the person is qualified.

          I wrote “fearful or angry” because that was the tone I perceived in the comments by people who wrote that they will yank their kid out of BSA if this change is made. But you’re right, it could also be a matter of principle for some.

        • “You don’t sell out your integrity, morals, and principles in the name of “survival”.”

          Nobody is asking for that. The Scout Oath and Law said nothing specific about homosexuality in 1910, and they say nothing specific about homosexually today. BSA’s core values will never change, but forcing a specific religious doctrine on all of Scouting is an affront to BSA core values.

        • cwgmpls,

          You’ve cherry picked examples of sectarian religious doctrines that do not pose conflicting moral obligations within a broader ecumenical group. One denomination’s belief in Trinitarianism does not impose any obligations on other denominations regarding moral conduct. A denomination’s belief in ordination of women does not impose an obligation for members of another denomination to receive religious instruction from women. I think your argument is a strawman.

          So why is it that BSA should adopt the sectarian position of the UCC that people have a moral obligation to accept and even affirm homosexual behaviors and relationships?

        • M N, you think those threatening to withdraw over including the practice of homosexuality as normal is goofy? I don’t. Our family has been heavily involved in Scouting for a very long time. But we’re ‘on hold’ until the decision has been made. It’s not goofy to expect BSA to be trustworthy, honorable, and faithful – standing by its values that have been codified by the Supreme Court. Should they prove to be for sale, it’s no longe something we could be part of. Any more than we would join Spiral Scouts — if an organization does not fit your values, why would you joing?

        • “So why is it that BSA should adopt the sectarian position of the UCC that people have a moral obligation to accept and even affirm homosexual behaviors and relationships?”

          That is not what is being proposed. The proposal is to allow each CO to decide for themselves if they want to accept and affirm homosexual behaviors, with no obligation imposed on COs that disagree, other than that they abide by the Scout Oath and Law. The same way ordination of women, belief in trinitarianism, acceptance of blacks, drinking coffee, acceptance of divorce, acceptance of premarital sex, abortion, going to church on Sunday, or any number of various moral teachings are already handled by BSA.

          The BSA should remain neutral on all issues that are not clearly defined in the Scout Oath and Law, as outlined in BSA’s Declaration of Religious Principles. That has been BSA’s basis for morality since 1910. Why do we want to carve out an exception to they way BSA teaches morality only for the topic of homosexuality, when COs are allowed to disagree on all other issues of morality that are not delineated in the Scout Oath and Law?

        • When this debate first began in our troop a long-term ASM said scouts are not affected by the policy. They are assumed to be still determining their sexual orientation and thus cannot be excluded under a policy. This may just be their opinion, but it does seem to reflect some confusion about the policy. Secondly, the answer was in response to a parent who was surprised by the policy.

  15. BSA’s official anti-gay discrimination is an embarrassment to me. When I am with non-Scouts, I avoid mentioning that I am an Adult Leader because I do not wish any gay acquaintances to believe that I would discriminate against them.
    Back in the 1950’s and 1960’s, there were many country/yacht clubs that discriminated against people of my religion. Most of their members only wanted to play golf, tennis, swim, or go boating. But I considered ALL of them to be anti-ME. And I considered all of their members to be guilty of not making their leadership change their rules.
    Now, the shoe is on the other foot. Now, I am a member of an organization with an official obnoxious discrimination policy, just because I just want to participate in Scouting. I am sure many members of the gay community consider all Scouts and leaders to be anti-gay.
    I believe that BSA’s policies are destructive on all levels:
    • To Scouts themselves, who know that they might be rejected based on their own potential sexual orientation, or whose friends and relatives would be rejected.
    • To Adult Leaders, who are associated with an organization whose policies they do not support.
    • To BSA Councils, who are losing corporate sponsorships.
    • To those currently outside of Scouting because they cannot associate with an organization whose official policy is anti-gay.

    I know BSA’s rules are unfair. How can I work to have them changed, in an orderly manner? This is my obligation under “a Scout is obedient”.

    Thank you for hearing me.

      • That’s right. Scouting always teaches people to quit if they don’t like something. I teach my boys to quit all the time. Don’t like dinner? Quit. Don’t like sleeping in a tent? Quit. Quit, Quit, Quit. It is a core Scout value.

        • No, Scouting teaches to work for change, which I find acceptable and noble regardless of my person position on any given matter. Declining to acknowledge your membership in the BSA is cowardly and ignoble. If anyone is ashamed of their membership, they ought to reconsider their membership.

        • Working for change is exactly what Nancy said she is doing. BSA’s policy is an embarrassment, so she is working for change. That is what Scouting teaches.

        • M N, Nancy is facing the same issue that thousands of other Scouters are currently facing. As a gay Eagle Scout said: “Scouting is right about a thousand things, It is wrong about this one thing.”

          Telling Nancy she should resign because she is embarrassed about a specific, current Scout policy doesn’t seem very helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, and cheerful.

          Nancy, I think you should keep doing exactly what you’re doing! Make clear that as someone who loves Scouting and its values, the current policy disturbs you. And I think that as Bryan said, we’re all going to get a chance in March to make our views known to the national leaders getting together in May to review this further. I don’t envy them their task!

    • Nancy, I too feel embaressed when visiting with gay family and friends. Everyone knows that my sons are Scouts and that I am a registered leader. They also know that I support lifting the ban and would support any youth or adult that informed me of their sexual orientation.

      My Life Scout and Tenderfoot feel that the ban should be lifted as well. They were raised in a home that welcomed a displaced cousin that is gay (a former scout that was asked to not reapply at the age of 16). Both boys feel that it is unfair to ban others that want to participate in Scouting. The eldest did inform me that he knows of several gays that are current Scouts and that he would be saddened if they were to be kicked out of Scouts.

      • Myself, this is a simple problem to solve. Isn’t Boy Scouts suppose to be boy lead? I say let the boys have a vote on all of this, instead of a bunch of adults deciding this for them. I have polled the boys in my troop and they could care less about peoples sexual orientation.

        • “Scouting is a program for boys, led by boys, under the direction of trained men.” Don’t forget the last part of that. Teenagers’ brains are still developing; they need adult guidance. Scouting is not Lord of the Flies.

    • Our troop’s SPL has a gay uncle. Out of respect for his uncle this scout opts to not invite him to contribute to fundraisers. However, this scout is serious about his role in scouting. It may be a little idealistic, but he hopes to be part of changing BSA. A part of the adult leadership in this group I am pleased to support his ideals.

      I think taking time to read and respond in this forum is one way to honor that goal.

  16. The entire issue, in my opinion, boils down to two questions:
    1. Does the Boy Scouts of America consider a homosexual person to be “reverent”?
    2. Does the Boy Scouts of America consider a homosexual person to be “morally straight”?
    The reason these two questions are at the center of this issue is because there is one requirement which each Boy Scout is expected to complete for each and every rank advancement: “Demonstrate scout spirit by living the Scout Oath (Promise) and Scout Law in your everyday life.”
    If the BSA determines that homosexuals cannot be “reverent” or “morally straight” then even if they allow homosexual boys to join, they cannot honestly advance in rank.

    So ultimately, what is being asked of our BSA leadership, is to make a decision to either endorse or reject homosexual behavior as reverent and morally straight.

    My personal opinion is that the Bible tells us homosexuality is improper, and therefore one cannot be reverent and homosexual. This Country was also founded on morals that rejected homosexual behavior as immoral. Therefore I also believe that one cannot be homosexual and morally straight unless we admit that we are voluntarily lowering our moral standards.

    • James, I respect your personal opinion, but I hope you can respect those of other Christians whose faiths differ in their interpretation of the Bible, and for whom homosexuality is not a sin but a God-given trait. Those persons are currently in a predicament of trying to do their duty to their God and to be reverent to their church. Allowing local units to take their own positions is the best if imperfect compromise on this difficult issue.

      I ask that you also look up the definition of “morally straight” as it’s defined in the current Boy Scout Handbook – and for quite a bit longer – because it emphasizes the importance of living your life in an OPEN and HONEST manner. Which is what the advocates of allowing openly gay persons in Scouting are arguing for, rather than Scouting’s current position of allowing gay men, women and boys in our ranks but forcing them to be furtive and dishonest.

      • Rolf,

        First, It is true that some denominations now recognize a religious obligation (never before recognized in 6,000 years of Judeo-Christian history) to both celebrate same-sex unions and to oppose “discrimination” against homosexuals. However, to be fair you should recognize that most Christian denominations consider it a religious obligation to celebrate marriage, discourage homosexuality and other forms of sexual immorality, and avoid leading children into immorality. These are conflicting, mutually exclusive religious obligations. There is no nonsectarian position here. Either homosexuality is “morally straight” or it isn’t. Discrimination on the basis of homosexual acts is either morally impermissible or morally acceptable. In a values-based organization, there is no middle ground. One way or another, SOMEONE’s religious obligation is going to be overruled by BSA. You are simply arguing that it should be the other guy’s and not yours. I can’t see how that is better than the current position.

        Second, the argument that the current policy (as with the DoD’s DADT policy) “forces” people to be dishonest can’t stand serious debate. That is like saying the Outdoor Code “requires” polluters to lie or laws against theft “force” shoplifters to lie, or military or academic honor codes “force” cheaters to lie. Lying to cover up a moral offense is NEVER justified by the offender’s self-interest in avoiding discovery. If it did, we would be lamenting poor old Richard Nixon who was “forced to lie” about Watergate because of burglary laws.

        It might be helpful to consider what Baden Powell thought about your argument in his original 1908 formulation of the Scout Law:

        “A SCOUT’S HONOUR IS TO BE TRUSTED. If a scout says “On my honour it is so,” that means it is so, just as if he had taken a most solemn oath. Similarly, if a scout officer says to a scout, “I trust you on your honour to do this,” the Scout is bound to carry out the order to the very best of his ability, and to let nothing interfere with his doing so. If a scout were to break his honour by telling a lie, or by not carrying out an order exactly when trusted on his honour to do so, he would cease to be a scout, and must hand over his scout badge and never be allowed to wear it again.”

        • Dennis, regardless of whether you believe my church conflicts with “6,000 years of Judeo-Christian history” – which, by the way, puts my Christian church in company with Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, and many other faiths which also conflict with that same “6,000 years” in other ways – those in favor of this policy change are not at all arguing that your religious obligation should be overruled in favor of others’.

          To the contrary, those in favor of the policy change are acting consistent with BSA’s basic policy – expressed in its charter and bylaws – to behave in an “absolutely nonsectarian” manner.

          If the policy passes, your chartered organization can continue to discriminate against gays – if that is what its religious obligation says it needs to do. But this policy change will allow my church to become a chartered organization, and will allow other churches, public-school parent-teacher organizations (such as the one that tenuously charters my sons’ packs, even though BSA’s current policy conflicts with the public school’s anti-discrimination policies), Reform Jewish synagogues, and other faiths that DO give open gays and lesbians a full seat at God’s table to charter their own troops and packs. Your troops and packs will be free from interference by outsiders, as finally will ours.

          I appreciate what you said about honor, too, but if you are accusing me of going against Baden-Powell you should really be directing your ire at BSA, because it is THEY who repeatedly emphasize that under the current policy no one inquires as to whether someone is gay. In other words, BSA tolerates closeted gays. You go so far as to suggest that closeted gays are “telling a lie” every day they live their lives, but show me where in ANY materials BSA distributes, or in any of its training, that closeted gays are asked to affirm their heterosexuality and lie about it. There is none.

          What closeted gays and lesbians are currently “forced” to do, then, is not LIE, but to avoid living their lives openly. It is BSA itself that actively encourages this situation.

          And of course, your entire argument that homosexuality is a “moral offense” rather than a God-given condition begs the entire question. Your religion considers it a moral offense. Mine does not. I respect your church’s position even though it differs with mine. Please respect mine as well. Thank you. Yours in Scouting!

        • Rolf,

          I think you missed my argument. First, “nonsectarian” does not require moral relativism, which is effectively the position that BSA would adopt by permitting each unit to make up its own version of the Scout Oath and Law. A values-based organization becomes meaningless if its values can mean anything anyone wants them to be. And setting up moral relativism as the highest sectarian obligation immediately poses a dillemma in that any other sectarian obligation is overruled by the religious duty of one sect not to impose moral judgments on anyone else.

          So the positions of traditionalist denominations and revisionist denominations are inherently and irreconcilably in conflict. The traidtionalist argues he has a moral and religious obligation to celebrate marital fidelity and condemn sexual immorality. The revisionist argues he has a moral and religious obligation to condemn discrimination and defamation directed against homosexuals. Each side views the other as a moral evil to be opposed. These are inherently conflicting positions that cannot coexist within a values-based organization.

        • And once again, closeted gays and lesbians are not forced to do anything by the BSA policy, least of all lie. First, no one is forced to join BSA. It is a voluntary association of people who share similar values. Second, no one is forced to lie. A homosexual member may choose to answer honestly or not whether he can commit to the Scout Oath and Law. If he is an open and avowed, unrepentent, committed homosexual then he cannot honestly claim to commit to Scouting’s moral code, and he should be considered ineligible for membership. No one is forced to lie. However, everyone is asked to respect the eligibility requirements as well as the other rules of the organization.

        • Dennis, I really appreciate your thoughtful response, but I have to disagree that BSA’s removing sexual orientation as a nationally imposed ban on membership or leadership is the same as an endorsement of “moral relativism.” It is simply a matter of respect for people of different faiths and cultures. If you are an evangelical Protestant, you may well believe that a Catholic, Jew, Muslim, or Unitarian are all immoral and going to hell. That is your right. But you should keep it to yourself. Scouting states that it is “absolutely nonsectarian.”

          Just because my church believes, as a matter of religious doctrine, that homosexuality is NOT a sin and that gays and lesbians deserve an equal seat at God’s table, that is not “moral relativism.” My church also believes in the Ten Commandments. Yes, Scouting is an association of people who share similar moral values. I’m pretty sure that anyone involved in Scouting believes, as you said, that we have “a moral and religious obligation to celebrate marital fidelity and condemn sexual immorality.” I’m pretty sure all Scouters and Scout families share the belief that sex out of wedlock, and adultery, are immoral. We all believe in the Scout Oath and Scout Law – and we all adhere to Youth Protection Guidelines.

          You imply that everyone “should” know that BSA currently doesn’t allow openly gay members. Well, show me in any training or application materials submitted to anyone where that is clearly spelled out. Show me in any training materials anywhere where BSA instructs committee chairs and chartered organization reps – the people who actually sign the application to confirm that someone is fit to lead – that openly gay people are to be categorically excluded for that reason alone. Show me in any training materials or information distributed to Courts of Honor that Eagle Scout candidates who are gay must be rejected. There is nothing. (Or, as Mike C would put it, NOTHING.)

          Show me in any materials or training – or even just give me a clear answer in your own personal opinion – as to exactly what “openly” or “avowedly” means. (Actually, the press release on the re-affirmed ban used the term “openly AND avowedly,” implying some sort of higher yardstick – or maybe they just liked the way it sounded. :-) )

          When Scouting “re-affirmed” its ban on openly gay persons last year, I wrote polite, friendly, private, individual letters to my District Executive and to all of the national leaders (Wayne Perry, Tico Perez, etc.) asking for guidance as to what “openly and avowedly” means in practice for committee chairs like me. I re-sent those letters three more times. I got no responses from anyone – I expect because no one could provide rational guidance.

          If I see two women of the same age showing up with a Cub Scout at a pack meeting, and one of them later volunteers to be the Pack Treasurer, should I reject her offer because she is “openly gay”? What if I learn the two women are roommates? What if they hold hands for a second? What if they have the same last name, but don’t look like sisters? Am I supposed to look into this further, or do I report this to my District so that they can do so? Unlike some of the other questions posed in this thread, this is not some hypothetical for our mainstream, middle-of-the-road, suburban Cub Scout Pack.

          Now of course, if they – or any heterosexual couple, for that matter – behave in an obviously sexual manner around our kids, violate privacy of others by talking about subjects like sex, politics, religion in front of our kids, or engage in other inappropriate conduct, they’re violating Youth Protection guidelines and for that reason alone are not fit to lead – and that’s a whole other matter.

          What if a potential volunteer is not gay but is “openly and avowedly” divorced? How about “openly” living with a girlfriend or boyfriend? “Openly” separated but still married? What if a leader candidate had an affair, but since then has reconciled with his wife and rejoined his family? I am not saying these actions are right – to the contrary, most people involved in Scouting would believe that some of them – or at least the actions leading up to them – are immoral. But I am saying that an individual unit and individual committees are in the best position to judge the fitness of these persons for leadership.

          The most important question: what about our boys? What if an Eagle Scout candidate “openly” admits in some non-Scout forum that he is gay, but also states that he is, always has been, and intends to remain celibate? That, too, is not a hypothetical.

          Look: our schools, our workplaces, the Girl Scouts and just about all other youth organizations have done fine by getting beyond this singling out of sexual orientation as a one-size-fits-all, imposed-from-above disqualification for membership or leadership. That is all that BSA is being asked to do as well. Even Mormon leaders like Mitt Romney believe that it’s time to change, and to move on.

        • For most of the history of Scouting in America, we did not have rules against homosexuals in any position, as Scout or leader. Check when those rules came into existence.

          As a charter organization representative, in Texas, I think it’s against Texas law to inquire about the sexual orientation of a Tiger Cub, or any other Scout. Not our business, legally.

          If, after 10 years of good Scouting a boy has demonstrated all the other qualities of being an Eagle Scout, why should sexual orientation suddenly become an issue?

          Working a charity event with a group of homosexual men, someone asked me about Scouting. The conversation eventually turned around to difficulties we have getting good leaders. One of the men said he’d be happy to volunteer, and he’s an Eagle — but of course, he can’t volunteer under the current rules. Of five gay men left in the conversation, all five had been Scouts, and loved it. Four of the five were Eagles, a rank I never attained.

          If you worked next to any of these men at that charity event, you’d be struck by what a fine, upstanding, charitable and moral man he was.

          Aren’t those people we need as volunteers? Scouting is losing out.

      • We used to refer Scouts who said they were atheist to the Unitarian religious award. Can’t do that anymore.

        We allow a lot of Scouts who don’t believe in the Bible exactly as Protestants and other Christian sects do — Muslims, Buddhists, Baha’i, Zoroastrians, for examples.

        Of our first six presidents, Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Adams, only two would be allowed to be Scout leaders under our current rules, Madison and Monroe — if they’d agree to the oath. Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt might be disqualified, too. I think that indicates a problem in our rules, not a problem with George Washington, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.

        Can we find some way to accommodate the author of the Declaration of Independence into Scouting?

        • That’s right. BSA’s declaration of religious principles state clearly that BSA does not get to define what belief in God means. That definition comes from a boy’s family and any religious group with which he is affiliated.

          What the Bible teaches about homosexuality is no more relevant to BSA than what the Dhamma teaches about homosexuality. BSA is very clear on this matter: religious teaching is to come from the family and not from BSA.

        • “Can we find some way to accommodate the author of the Declaration of Independence into Scouting?”

          excellent!

        • Your wrong in your thinking with regard to the principles of these presidents Ed. Fundamentally Wrongful…

        • Your wrong in your thinking with regard to the principles of these presidents Ed. Fundamentally Wrongful…

          If you think I err, please say where, and offer a citation. The Adamses were Unitarian, which pretty much lets them out. Jefferson thought any requirement of a religious oath to be contrary to basic human rights, and refused to participate in any organization that required one. Washington, too, opted out of organizations that required religious oaths after 1776, and refused to participate in Christian communion his entire adult life — a subject of some attempted scandal in Philadelphia during his presidency (the local clergy noted others following his example, and asked him to “repent;” he took to walking out of services during communion, and when the clergy requested he not do that, he simply stopped going to services even to please Martha); Lincoln ran as a “non-Christian” in his successful race for Congress, and as president stopped any consideration of the Jesus amendment).

          I may be wrong in my thinking, but that doesn’t change the history of our presidents. Under current standards, many of our presidents, including especially Jefferson, Lincoln, and perhaps Washington, could not join Boy Scouts as a leaders. I think it’s a good idea not to come up with a system that would exclude the Author of the Declaration of Independence, the Father of the Constitution, The Father of Our Country, and the Great Emancipator. That our standards would exclude them is not a bad reflection on them, but instead a serious flaw of our standards.

        • cwgmpls & beth: Do you think your going to define the hearts of people who choose to be Godly and who choose to join the BSA for what they know Godly means and what morally straight means and what the BSA Oath and Law really mean. There is no gray area in the minds of the vast majority of Godly people what Godly Principles and morality mean. You may want there to be grayness to serve your purposes but that doesn’t make it right and doesn’t give you the power to think your going to define what those Godly principles are. The truth of a mans heart lies within himself and I don’t think the BSA or you two are going to define that truth. The BSA stands for what the founders chose for it to stand for and looking back at all the past writings it isn’t unclear as to what their true intent was. If your prayerful and a Godly person you see less and less gray and more black and white when it comes to understanding the true spirit of scouting and what its all about. I think the tiny minority of people who wish for the scouts to be what they want it to be should just leave the vast vast majority of its membership alone and let them have the BSA for what it stands for and has always stood for. Its wrongful for a tiny minority to try to seize the BSA and change its spirit just to serve their selfish purposes; build your own organization. I accept the BSA for what it fundamentally stands for and respect all the good qualities built into the program. Why should the minority be given the right to steal that all away from the vast majority of scouters? They shouldn’t be; that’s wrong.

        • Wallace, why can’t you accept that your god is not recognized by the BSA as the ‘one true god?’ A scout is reverent. A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. HE RESPECTS THE BELIEFS OF OTHERS. You don’t seem to be able to deal with this aspect of the Scout Law.

        • The BSA stands for what the founders chose for it to stand for and looking back at all the past writings it isn’t unclear as to what their true intent was.

          Which founders? Founders of Scouting in America?

          I’d like to see some citation to back up that claim. Somehow I doubt that Dan Beard was much concerned about the issue, nor James West.

          Founders of America? I think you should review their writings. Jefferson, Franklin, Washington, Madison and Hamilton, among others, didn’t share your view of the exclusivity of Christian ideas as virtuous, nor your view of what Christian ideas ought to be.

          Which is why Stephen Girard, an atheist, thought he’d found refuge in Philadelphia in 1776 — refuge from France, where an atheist might be condemned to death. America certainly favored him. By 1812, Girard was the richest man in the world. That was fortunate for us: By 1814, the government had run out of money to prosecute the war against the British, and faced surrender simply because there was no way to further the fight. Girard opened up his personal accounts and his bank, and financed the entire U.S. war effort. We ended up with a treaty that preserved our freedoms, and especially our independence from Britain.

          So we owe our freedom to a man considered unfit to be a Boy Scout. That smacks of outright ungratefulness, to me.

          When we start excluding people based on creeds, we run the risk of excluding some, or many, or all, of the people we should wish to emulate.

          Same thing with sexual orientation. When we create an organization that would now exclude tens of thousands of Eagle Scouts, President Buchanan, Van Cliburn, and scores of other admirable men, because of their sexual orientation when that should never be a topic of conversation in a Scouting context, we may have gone beyond our good intentions.

          Are you certain Lord Baden-Powell could join BSA as a leader, today?

        • Why should the minority be given the right to steal that all away from the vast majority of scouters?

          You may be surprised by whether you are in the majority or minority. Had you thought of that?

  17. If the BSA abandons the leadership standard, scouting buys the whole package. The Whole Package. How do we handle these situations;
    * A transgendered scout leader at summer camp insists on being allowed to shower during time reserved for female adult leaders (and yes, there are camps that still have old-style, open shower houses);
    * Disruption that would inevitable result from such a colorful character parading through camp. (Remember, scouting is supposed to be about the boys, not validating the behavior of adult leaders; do we punish middle-school-age boys for acting their age when they see to such a spectacle?)
    * Advocates seem to say the answer is “no sex,” period. So, do we have a rule prohibiting a scoutmaster from kissing his wife (or a female scouter kissing her husband) goodbye to preclude complaints of discrimination from same-sex scouting couples?

    Are these situations far-out, fear mongering.

    Not really. You can find these and similar situations across the country in the public school systems. It will be the volunteers who will have to deal with this (and be pilloried as bigots) while the boys down in Texas with the big salaries shrug their shoulders and smile for photo ops with the corporate types who resume their financial support. By and large, Scouting’s unofficial don’t ask, don’t tell policy has worked for those whose focus is on the mission of the movement, rather than making a statement.

    • Chuck wrote and asked: “How do we handle these situations;

      * A transgendered scout leader at summer camp insists on being allowed to shower during time reserved for female adult leaders (and yes, there are camps that still have old-style, open shower houses);”

      Depending on the camp, we allow her to do so. If she self-identifies to both camp staff and her unit as female, we let her shower with other females. This is only a big deal to people who cannot keep their heads out of the gutter. We do the same thing when we allow young children to go to the bathroom with their female or male adults. This isn’t sexuality — this is getting a shower and being clean.

      “* Disruption that would inevitable result from such a colorful character parading through camp. (Remember, scouting is supposed to be about the boys, not validating the behavior of adult leaders; do we punish middle-school-age boys for acting their age when they see to such a spectacle?)”

      What kind of colorful character, Chuck? Because we’re talking behavior here, that “colorful character” would be asked to leave camp and go home. Period. Whether that “colorful character” is male or female, gay or straight, if they are disrupting camp activities, they get to go home — do not pass go, do not collect anything — just like normal…nothing changes!!

      “* Advocates seem to say the answer is “no sex,” period. So, do we have a rule prohibiting a scoutmaster from kissing his wife (or a female scouter kissing her husband) goodbye to preclude complaints of discrimination from same-sex scouting couples?”

      When I was asked to please kiss my white girlfriend (or wife) in private, it was done so as not to potentally embarrass “tender eyes”. That’s fine, our private kisses gave us the opportunity to put a little more into it than a peck. There’s nothing wrong with asking folks — straight or gay — to please put a muzzle on your public displays of affection. Most of us ADULTS will honor that and agree to it.

      It is only the people who have have not matured past the “Shallow Hal” or “Happy Gilmore” descriptions, that local units (and in all of these cases, this is a local matter!) have to even consider, Chuck.

      • “(A transgendered scout leader at summer camp insists on being allowed to shower during time reserved for female adult leaders (and yes, there are camps that still have old-style, open shower houses).

        “Depending on the camp, we allow her to do so. If she self-identifies to both camp staff and her unit as female, we let her shower with other females …”

        I think it’s more a case of “depending” on the females, Mike. I know any number of them who would call it as they see it, and consider “her” to be a “him,” irrespective of how he “self-identifies.” And that is when it gets more complicated in the field, than from an armchair at a computer screen, or a boardroom in Irving, Texas.

        • Man wrote in part: “I think it’s more a case of “depending” on the females, Mike. I know any number of them who would call it as they see it, and consider “her” to be a “him,” irrespective of how he “self-identifies.” And that is when it gets more complicated in the field, than from an armchair at a computer screen, or a boardroom in Irving, Texas.”

          Not complicated in the least. This is a LOCAL ISSUE. The other females know her as a “her”; and those who do not know her as a “her” would be counseled when the unit showed up for camp. Non-issue here. Just like if an adult showed up and required a shower every 12 hours for health reasons. Just like if an adult showed up and required the shower stall area be emptied because he (or she) has burn grafts which would be awful to “look at” in a more “opened” shower.

          We use COMMON SCOUTER SENSE here, along with an application of the ideas behind what we teach or should be teaching our young men and women with. If the woman self-ids herself as a gal, even going through pre-op surgery, this person would be more of a woman than a man. Either the other women will allow her to shower with them; they will give up the shower for her to get in and shower off (we’re only talking a few minutes…not an entire evening!); or some other LOCAL ARRANGEMENTS would be made IN ADVANCE to satistfy everyone involved.

          You know, some folk here act like they’ve NEVER had to talk with other Scouters about special issues pertaining to their unit before. It’s amazing!

    • Every camp I know is installing at least one or two private shower stalls. Not for gays, but because some religions prohibit showing yourself in the nude to others, even those of the same gender. BSA openly welcomes all religions, remember?

  18. I would like to point to this quote from the FAQ at the link in the original article:
    “Is this discussion the result of pressure from outside organizations? Was the decision not to change the policy made because of pressure received from conservative organizations?”

    “No. Scouting’s guiding principle is to “Do what’s best for the organization.” It is clear that no single policy will accommodate all viewpoints on the issue. The BSA won’t sacrifice its mission, or the youth served by the movement, by allowing the organization to be consumed by a single, divisive, and unresolved societal issue. The BSA believes that good people can personally disagree on this topic and still work together to achieve life-changing benefits to youth through the program.”

    • If this statement were true, then why is a fundraising committee a part of the plan? The claim that this is entirely unrelated to pressure from external organizations is utterly absurd.

  19. Learn something from religious institutions and school. When you let gays play with boys, irreversible tragedies happen. Do you want that for your children? Be honest! I do not.

  20. This topic can be discussed aroung the campfire until the ashes grow cold and will be resolved. I urge you to look at what became of the Canadian Scout program after this debate and their policy changes in 1998 and 1999. Look at where they are today.

  21. Summer Camp 20 years from now. Scoutmasters will have to know which scouts are gay and which ones are straight, which girls are lesbians and which are straight. Yes girls will also have to be allowed to join Boy Scouts. They already have their foot in the door with Venturing. Of course the name will have to change to Scouts of America. Other questions to consider will be can gay scouts tent with each other? Certainly they may engage in sexual intimacy. The same goes for lesbians. Will we need a new merit badge on sexual diversity and safe sex??? Will summer camp councilors be handing out condoms like our liberal public school systems? Straight boys and girls attending campouts together will cause a greater concern. Without a doubt some straight girls will come home pregnant. Maybe the camp first aid station will have to stock up on the Morning After pill, just in case. Maybe troops will have to invest in single people tents. Let’s keep it simple. Boy Scouts has always been a program for straight dads to mentor their straight sons. If you don’t like it then start your own organization. It may end up that the straight Boy Scouts and Scout leaders will have to start a new organization. I will keep my ear to the ground. I normally end my correspondents with, “It’s a great day for Scouting.” I end this note with sadness as I see this great organization and country crumble under liberal agenda

    • Mike wrote:

      “Summer Camp 20 years from now.”

      Why not “Summer Camp 20 years AGO, Mike? This is 2013; my experiences follow from just 20 years ago, or 1993, okay?

      At that time, I was a contingent leader and Scoutmaster of a BSA Troop attending something called InterCamp.

      “Scoutmasters will have to know which scouts are gay and which ones are straight, which girls are lesbians and which are straight.”

      As a Scoutmaster, I didn’t bother knowing which of my Scouts were “gay” or “straight”, since they were were all Scouts. They could figure this minor detail out themselves. I was more concerned with getting them all there and finding out where our camp area is. They built their campsite up; I was busy with meeting the camp commissioner (a female) and finding out where the coffee pot was.

      “Yes girls will also have to be allowed to join Boy Scouts. They already have their foot in the door with Venturing. Of course the name will have to change to Scouts of America.”

      The older girls were in Venturing and others were in Girl Scouts. We didn’t change the name and nobody talked about changing the name of the BSA to anything but the Boy Scouts of America. Gals love to be a part of something “cool” like the Boy Scouts. Still do, Mike…have you seen the Venturing numbers? lately?

      “Other questions to consider will be can gay scouts tent with each other? Certainly they may engage in sexual intimacy. The same goes for lesbians.”

      No more than boys have overnights at each other’s homes, and girls have overnights at each others’ homes, Mike. And are you SURE that they are gay? Do you have access to some sort of “gay testing kit”?
      Did you take DNA swabs of each person? Did you ask their parents? Did you ask them?

      My 30 male and female Scouts slept in their tentage, some four to a tent because “they wanted to be together” and whom am I to say “you can’t do that…people will think you’re gay?!” Stupid! Each adult slept with one other adult in separate tents. Well, except for one woman, who slept by herself because she said that she snores pretty badly. They changed their minds after the first night whereby I kept most of the adults awake! The second and third nights, the one woman slept with her hubby; I slept alone.

      “Will we need a new merit badge on sexual diversity and safe sex???”

      No, we need a new merit badge on simple games, and it needs to be required. Most of the InterCamp participates that year didn’t want to play the established set up games but rather just wanted to “hang out together”. No program — just walk about, talk about each other and where they are from, talk about the boys or the girls or both — just hang out.

      If any of the boys or girls were having any form of sex, they were doing it really, really sneakly. I am sure that many of my Scouts as well as other Scouts from other groups probably had protection but I don’t think it got used.

      “Will summer camp councilors be handing out condoms like our liberal public school systems?” Nobody as far as I was aware, handed out or even recommended condoms. The area I’m sure was full of places whereby people could “peel off” and go have sex…but it was a SCOUTING event, Mike…not a orgy location.

      I DID however, notice that there were was a lot of “writing” of phone numbers, addresses and email addresses by both males and females to each other… to those of the opposite and same sex. I did stuff like that when I was a Scout, and still do send letters and emails to those opposite and same sex pen pals!

      “Straight boys and girls attending campouts together will cause a greater concern. Without a doubt some straight girls will come home pregnant.”

      Hasn’t happened to any unit I served as a primary leader of, Mike. Whether Troop, Explorer Post, Varsity Team, or Venturing Crew — nobody came home pregnant.

      I HAVE however, had some folks to come home with the ‘runs’ because of the food they (attempted) to consume during the weekend or week.

      “Maybe the camp first aid station will have to stock up on the Morning After pill, just in case.”

      More like Immodium or Pepto, instead, Mike. Kids are not coming to camp to have sex. Not when they can have sex in more comfortable locations like home or school. Too many bugs. Too many wild animals. Too much dirt. We’re talking KIDS.

      Now, if you’re talking ADULTS, all bets are off and adults know how to leave the camp area and find their own “necking place”, away from the kids.

      “Maybe troops will have to invest in single people tents.”

      Yeah, Mike, for snorers like me. Have them have built-in solar panels to charge our CPAP machines up with!!

      “Let’s keep it simple. Boy Scouts has always been a program for straight dads to mentor their straight sons.”

      Boy Scouts have always been a program for moms to mentor their sons also, or haven’t you gotten the memo that women can be Scoutmasters and Assistant Scoutmasters and Commissioners also?

      What year is this again? 1953? 1963? 1973??

      2013.

      Finally, you stated “If you don’t like it then start your own organization.”

      Very good advice, Mike. I’ll keep the BSA — however it turns out. I think however, you need to consider taking your own advice…

    • Summer Camp 20 years from now. Scoutmasters will have to know which scouts are gay and which ones are straight . . .

      Why? We don’t know that now. Under YPT rules, how would we get such information? And why would we?

    • Gosh Mike, that sounds really alarming – especially the “pregnancies and condoms at summer camp” part. Fortunately, BSA can look at the examples of Scouting movements in countries across the globe (the United Kingdom, Australia, Germany, Sweden, Canada – to name but a few) that have for many years already allowed openly gay members and leaders – without making any big deal about it! – and none of your fevered parade of horribles has happened.

      Fortunately, BSA can look at the example of the Girl Scouts of America, which hasn’t become the cesspool of depravity that you fear.

      Fortunately, BSA can look at all the BSA summer camps that ALREADY have young men AND WOMEN serving as camp counselors, all able to keep their hands to themselves and doing a terrific job with our boys.

      Fortunately, BSA itself has for many years allowed women to be leaders, and recognizes that there are many single moms with boys in Scouting, so that contrary to your statement Scouting in America is no longer JUST about just dads mentoring to their sons – although it’s wonderful when they do!

  22. I appreciate the comments of many here on BOTH sides of the issue. I especially appreciate those who follow the Scout Law concerning “courtesy”.
    I have deep concerns about the current scout policy. No matter what I believe about whether homosexuality is a “choice” or my concerns about splitting Scouting over the issue, the current policy is problematic. I have, in the course of a nearly 20-year Scouting career, heard and seen the bigotry and ugliness that the current policy underwrites in the minds of some. To believe that something is immoral is your right. To use ugly, divisive and violent language about others violates Scout Law.
    My other concern has to do with allowing the views of some about “morally straight” to dictate what all must do. A number of religious denominations in the U.S. do NOT share the view that homosexuality is grounds for exclusion. I think that a new policy which allows chartering organizations to follow their own beliefs respects all.

  23. Bottom line, let’s talk to the parents of the boys involved. Not to people with an agenda to fulfill. Easy enough to send out surveys to the parents of registered boys. I guarantee it will be eye-opening. And, with the Congressional chartering of other Scout organizations, the BSA ought to pay attention to what the parents of the boys affected think.

    • Be sure to include all the parents who used to be in Scouts, but have dropped out because of the ban of gays that started in 1991, and who would come back if the ban were lifted. They are Scouts too, and their voice should count.

        • If they dropped out due to Scoutings Values, then let them start their own group that embraces the values that they hold dear. Why should they force their agenda down an organization’s throat that the majority does not want.

          It is still a free country, no one is forcing any one to be a Boy Scout. And there is no law that states that you cannot create your own organization.

        • They dropped out because they hold Scouting’s values true: that a Scout’s home and religious affiliation, not BSA, should define the Scout’s religious life.

          BSA lost track of that Scouting value in 1991, so many Scouts left. If BSA were to re-align itself with Scouting, they would be happy to come back.

    • If you aren’t a registered member of the BSA then you why should you have a right to vote? The BSA is a private organization that makes it’s own policies of how it wants to run the organization to meet the mission it’s chosen to pursue. If you aren’t a card carrying member why on earth should you be allowed to vote on a private organizations membership policy? Then I should have the right to vote on every private organizations policies anytime I don’t agree with their opinion whether that policy effects me directly or not? If you want to make a difference in scouting then join; I hope when you join you see the true values of the organization and choose to participate in a powerful and significant way to improve the mission of the program for boys.

  24. Regarding “Gay” leaders and members.
    I thought protecting the children was the foremost concern. Everyone in the upper management of this origination has an obligation to protect the children. If this means taking on the “Gay Rights Groups”, and a few Parents, that is your job. You accepted this requirement when you took the position you hold. You are being “paid” to protect the children to the best of your ability. You still have time to make this right. “DO YOUR JOBS”. And saying that it will be left up to the packs to decide the issue is a cop-out. You want our money every year, but you don’t want the problems that go with it. Way to stand up for our children. I guess we’ll see how much money you get when you lose most of your membership.

  25. The Writer’s narrative is not what I have heard. The idea of a change was being pushed from the Executives in Dallas without regard to the membership. Their biggest concern appeared to loss of corporate funding and I assume reductions in salary. Since at least 5 members of the National Office receive over $400,000 per year, it would appear that the BS can give up some corporate sponsors.

    • Bill wrote earlier:

      “The idea of a change was being pushed from the Executives in Dallas without regard to the membership.”

      Well, you’ve heard wrong. The idea of a change was being pushed by the VOLUNTEERS belonging to the BSA’s National Executive Board. Not professionals.

      “Their biggest concern appeared to loss of corporate funding and I assume reductions in salary. Since at least 5 members of the National Office receive over $400,000 per year, it would appear that the BS can give up some corporate sponsors.”

      The biggest concerns comes from from the loss of membership and the decline of national partners, as most of the national partners have non-discrimation policies which conflict with their roles as BSA volunteers. If this is true at the national level, it has deifnaite impacts locally for volunteers.

  26. The writer’s version of events is not what I understand happened. There was a top down push from the Executives in Dallas to change the policy mostly out of concern for corporate funding. Since 5 National Executives in Dallas are reported to receive over $400,000 per year from the BSA, it would appear that the BSA has some fat in its budget.

    • Since BSA is a non-profit, shouldn’t those figures be publically available? It would appear to me that their salaries GROSSLY violate the Scout Law – “A Scout is thrifty.” Anyone know how to find out?

    • Really? How about some proof, please. You’re really not being fair to the national executives let alone the unpaid national board. I don’t know what’s motivating them, but I’m not pretending that I do.

    • Bill wrote earlier:

      “The idea of a change was being pushed from the Executives in Dallas without regard to the membership.”

      Well, you’ve heard wrong. The idea of a change was being pushed by the VOLUNTEERS belonging to the BSA’s National Executive Board. Not professionals.

      “Their biggest concern appeared to loss of corporate funding and I assume reductions in salary. Since at least 5 members of the National Office receive over $400,000 per year, it would appear that the BS can give up some corporate sponsors.”

      The biggest concerns comes from from the loss of membership and the decline of national partners, as most of the national partners have non-discrimation policies which conflict with their roles as BSA volunteers. If this is true at the national level, it has deifnaite impacts locally for volunteers.

  27. I’m glad that Scouting is listening before deciding on the proposed changes to its membership policy. It’s great to have a spirited, yet courteous discussion. At the end of the day, though, the BSA will change the membership policy in such a way that does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation–or religion, for that matter. Perhaps the changes currently proposed will be sufficient–I very much hope so. But, as a practical matter, BSA will make the necessary changes because as long as this red letter is pinned on the movement’s chest we will not be able to grow in membership or in resources. Those of us who love Scouting do not wish to see it settle for an existence on the margin of American life.

    For the record, I’m an Eagle Scout blessed by the privilege of having worked for Scouting in the professional service and in a number of volunteer capacities including, currently, Cubmaster.

      • Oh but it will. If Scouting caves in to the big corporations (see $$$$), then it will kill the Scouting membership in the US as it did in Canada when Canada gave in to the special interest groups promoting same sex couples.

        I joined Scouting and have my boys in Scouting for its values – take that away and it is just another program for youth. To me and many, many others, the last two words of the Scout Oath will need to changed from “morally straight” to “politically correct”

        • I don’t think you will see an influx of new members if the policy is changed. And, I don’t think you will see a return of foundation and corporation dollars lost “because of the policy.”

          I agree there will be a significant loss in both if the policy is changed.

        • Stuart, since you have boys currently in Scouting, please open the Handbook, turn to page 23, and read the definition of “morally straight”:

          “Your relationships with others should be HONEST AND OPEN. RESPECT AND DEFEND THE RIGHTS OF ALL PEOPLE. Be clean in your speech and actions AND FAITHFUL IN YOUR RELIGIOUS BELIEFS. Values you practice as a Scout will help you shape a life of virtue and self-reliance.”

          And lest you think the above is due to “political correctness,” read this from the 1965 Boy Scout Handbook at page 51:

          “All your life you will be associated with people of different faiths. In America we believe in religious freedom. That is why we respect others whose religion may differ from ours, ALTHOUGH FOR REASON OF CONSCIENCE WE DO NOT AGREE WITH THEM. THEIR CUSTOMS MAY BE DIFFERENT FROM OURS, BUT THEIR HEARTS ARE JUST AS TRUE, THEIR FAITH JUST AS SINCERE.”

          There are 1,000 churches in just my Christian denomination alone that believe that homosexuality is not a sin and that gays and lesbians are equal before the Lord. My pastor gave a sermon several months ago about Scouting and its current discriminatory practices, and my congregation prayed that Scouting will change. My congregation has numerous Scouters and former Scouters, including at least one Silver Beaver recipient, who are united in their hope that Scouting will respect religious liberty and change its current practice.

          Your suggestion that this is some money-driven, politically correct campaign is totally wrong.

        • Rolf,
          Thanks for the quote from the 1965 handbook.

          “All your life you will be associated with people of different faiths. In America we believe in religious freedom. That is why we respect others whose religion may differ from ours, ALTHOUGH FOR REASON OF CONSCIENCE WE DO NOT AGREE WITH THEM. THEIR CUSTOMS MAY BE DIFFERENT FROM OURS, BUT THEIR HEARTS ARE JUST AS TRUE, THEIR FAITH JUST AS SINCERE.”

          I wish it would have said ” Although for reason of conscience we MAY not agree with them.”

    • Once again, when you are an avowed Homosexual, you are wearing that label openly. Now everyone who isn’t has to explain to their Scouts why Mr. Jones has a boyfriend. It’s for sex, get it? Along with that then you have brought into the organization the concept, and approval of homosexuality as a great quality of Leadership the Scouts should emulate. That is why we vet our Scoutmasters. This concept is bigger than someone could type about, but , if you are missing that in your son’s education, there are many places you could take him so he can learn all about it.
      All in all, you either call out good and bad, or do you don’t. We have the courage of our convictions and we will fight for them in this organization. Standing for nothing, open to all is the gutless choice. If you don’t want to teach your sons ‘good’ and ‘bad’, please find someplace else to do that.

      • Is it also true that?:

        Once again, when you are an avowed heterosexual, you are wearing that label openly. Now everyone has to explain to their Scouts why Mr. Jones has a girlfriend, or wife. It’s for sex, get it? Along with that then you have brought into the organization the concept, and approval of heterosexuality as a great quality of Leadership the Scouts should emulate. That is why we vet our Scoutmasters. This concept is bigger than someone could type about, but , if you are missing that in your son’s education, there are many places you could take him so he can learn all about it.

        If that does not obtain for heterosexuals, why would we expect it to obtain for homosexuals? 25 years ago, when BSA did NOT have an anti-homosexual leader policy, BSA did not experience the problems you imagine here.

        American Airlines did not experience those problems. Girl Scouts didn’t have those problems. Big Brothers/Big Sisters didn’t have those problems. Little League Baseball didn’t have those problems. School districts don’t have those problems.

        What’s inferior about BSA, that you think leaders won’t behave as adults? (I fear you know something about too many current leaders that I don’t know.)

        For more than 100 years, Scouting in the U.S. has provided an excellent place to train up young men in how to lead, regardless of sexual orientation. For 22 years we’ve had a policy saying homosexuals cannot be leaders — a policy instituted, as I understood it, in an attempt to reduce molestings of Scouts, but since discovered to be not much use in that regard and obviated with our current Youth Protection Program.

        Tomorrow, in Fort Worth, Eagle Scout Gov. Rick Perry will honor a homosexual, joined by a president, I understand, and many other people including most of the powers of Scouting in Longhorn Council. I may recall incorrectly, but I believe this homosexual was Cub Scout, and Boy Scout, in Texas, way back when.

        None of what you fear of homosexuals is evident in the life of Harvey Lavan Cliburn, that I know. He is instead an American hero, the guy who struck a blow for free enterprise in the heart of the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War, making friends and fans out of former enemies.

        As I watch Van Cliburn’s funeral tomorrow, I will wonder if you will be thinking all through the ceremony at Broadway Baptist Church, that it is a sign of American going to Hades in a handbasket. And I wonder if you would have directed your invective against Cub Scout Van Cliburn, as you have here toward people without name, who share his orientation.

        How much poorer we would all have been but for the great work of this man.

        What does his orientation have to do with anything?

        What Troop or Pack wouldn’t have been proud to have that kid as a member?

        • Ed
          Thank you for the fantastic lesson. He was a musician with few equals.

  28. Instead of focusing on the local problems of allowing Openly Gay Leaders and Scouts, which will police itself for the most part, the real problem for the majority of us who joined the organization knowing full well and approving the current policy, is the Real Outcome of this change will be at the National Level of BSA,Inc.
    And that is when an Openly Gay National Executive changes the National Policy to further the GLBT agenda. Big Picture People!
    This change was not driven by the boots on the ground, those of us who have boys in the program. It is driven by corporations who have no interest in the program and are driven by their HR departments.

    • Is this discussion the result of pressure from outside organizations? Was the decision not to change the policy made because of pressure received from conservative organizations?

      No. Scouting’s guiding principle is to “Do what’s best for the organization.” It is clear that no single policy will accommodate all viewpoints on the issue. The BSA won’t sacrifice its mission, or the youth served by the movement, by allowing the organization to be consumed by a single, divisive, and unresolved societal issue. The BSA believes that good people can personally disagree on this topic and still work together to achieve life-changing benefits to youth through the program.

      http://www.scouting.org/sitecore/content/MembershipStandards/KnowTheFacts/FAQs.aspx

    • PE, I am a former Den leader and a father of a active Boy Scout. I am not gay. I also am very religious. Sir, I believe you opening statement say volumes; ” Openly Gay Leaders and Scouts”. I am a Openly Hetersexual (former)leader. I did not bring my sexuality to Den meetings and Scouts. Neither will or are gay leaders. If you don’t think there are leaders now that are gay (married to a woman or not) than you are naive.

      • There will be openly homosexual men taking leadership roles in the BSA, troops, packs etc. if this membership policy is changed. Some will have a social and political agenda of trying to convince youth and adults that homosexuality is a natural and normal lifestyle. just seeing how participants on this blog are throwing the Presby USA, Lutheran, Episcopalean, acceptance of homosexual leadership policy changes in my face now proves that will become a continued practice. The BSA isn’t about becomming part of some homosexual agenda of trying to mainstream the homosexual lifestyle which has been aggressively going on for years now. Leaving the present policy in place allows the BSA the power to stay out of that social and political debate; exactly where it should be because BSA’s not about sexual preferences or trying to normalize homosexual behavior; it’s about teaching leadership skills, merit badge skills, outdoor life, etc. Based on what’s already happened if those committed to a homosexual agenda are successful in changing the BSA policy then that change will be used as a part of the weaponry the militant homosexuals will use in making their case toward future advances for their agenda and the BSA will be touted as another reason the Baptists, Catholics, protection of marriage advocates should surrender their principles and join the quasi growing list of organizations who support “everything” the homosexual agenda consists of… That will happen; happens now so it be difficult to ever say it wouldn’t. Does the BSA and its membership want to be in that position if a change in the membership policy made?

        • There will be openly homosexual men taking leadership roles in the BSA, troops, packs etc. if this membership policy is changed. Some will have a social and political agenda of trying to convince youth and adults that homosexuality is a natural and normal lifestyle

          Didn’t happen before the policy was put in place, and I see no reason for it to happen now.

        • Good grief, Wallace. The point is to do away with a discriminatory one-size-fits-all policy so that local chartered organizations can be free to allow someone to be a leader or member who happens to be gay (and not closeted gay) as long as they meet all the standards of Scouting. But if other local chartered organizations believe as a matter of their faith that homosexuality is a bar to leadership or membership, so be it: that’s their right as well.

          This idea that “militant homosexuals” will descend upon Scouting en masse if this policy changes is ludicrous. Scouting will continue to be a traditional, faith-based program drawing on values in place since 1910.

        • Ed… Something must have happened or why would the BSA adopt the policy.. The policy must have been created to protect the BSA from anticipated problems from not having such a policy.. I assume the policy was put in place to allow the BSA to retain some legal control and legal power over the situations that will arise in a culture where it seems some activists for homosexuality and a homosexual lifestyle are becoming more and more aggressive against organizations and people who don’t accept their behavior and lifestyle as normal. Why would the BSA give up the benefits of having a policy in place like this now at a time when it seems the policy will serve the BSA best. Seems to me the BSA leadership that wrote and implemented the current membership policy at the time were forward and progressive thinkers in helping the BSA, its units and membership “Be Prepared” to meet the political and social attacks that are being waged against it now which will ultimately cause tremendous divisions and decline in the overall membership and quality of the BSA organization.

        • rolf: Why should anyone believe what you said with regard to homosexuals not descending on scouting to change it to serve their political and social agendas? Just look at what’s already been happening nationally with other organizations that have divorce themselves from and surrendered their morals ultimately falling victim to the same rhetoric you share? First homosexuals want to have equal rights in being ordained ministers in Christian denominations, then they demand equal rights to homosexual marriages which is an impossible demand since God rules this one by His Word that a true marriage consists of a covenant with Him and He will only become involved in a marriage covenant if the covenant includes a man a woman and Himself. Attacking every aspect of our culture to tout a homosexual flag of victory will never truly attain victory for the aggressive militant homosexuals who have an agenda to change the true hearts of men and God’s Will for His Creation. That day will never truly come; if it were to come it would have already happened when various societies chose to walk down the same road the activist homosexuals want our society to walk down today. Sodom and Gomorrah isn’t a place I’d ever want to visit and I have no intentions of being drug there without first battling for my free right to try to avoid that destiny. I’m not a lone voice on this issue; I represent many many people.

      • Hi Tom,
        You don’t seem to understand what policy is changing. The policy is the acceptance of ‘avowed homosexuals’ in Leadership positions or as Scouts. I did not make that up. That is the desire of the BSA Inc. Key 3 right now in case you don’t realize it. If you do not think there is a bigger goal involved in this change, you are sadly naive. Straights do not walk around classifying ourselves by our sexual preferences. The GLBT do exactly that, for that is how they describe themselves. And now BSA Inc. wants us to start indoctrinating our Scouts to accept that as normal. Sorry, not without a fight for our org that we support and fund. You are free to influence your children anyway you want in that area, but we are not going to accept it just because the world wants us too.

        • Straights do not walk around classifying ourselves by our sexual preferences.

          Excuse me, you seem to be walking around classifying yourself by your sexual preference.

          We didn’t know who was homosexual before the policy was put into place, most of the time. When we did know, it was rarely because anyone had tried to turn a unit, or district, or council, into an advocacy group for gay rights.

          I’m not sure why anyone thinks that would change now.

          I’ll wager that most of the time you can’t tell when you’re working with someone with a homosexual orientation. You aren’t asked to acknowledge anything other than their competence as a person, and make your contribution to the work project.

          Why should that change? Do you plan on grilling leaders on their sexual preferences and positions? I don’t, now, and I don’t intend to change, if the policy changes.

        • No PE, with all due respect, you seem to misunderstand the proposal. The policy is the ability of an openly gay person to be a member or leader IF THE LOCAL UNIT IS OKAY WITH IT. If the local unit instead believes that an openly gay person is not fit to be leader or member, then THE LOCAL UNIT DOESN’T HAVE TO ACCEPT THAT PERSON AS A LEADER OR MEMBER. But at least that person can find another local unit to belong to, or perhaps be a Lone Scout if that’s not possible.

          Where do you get off thinking that “BSA wants us to start indoctrinating our Scouts” about any such personal matters? BSA has done a wonderful job of being strictly non-sectarian and respecting a wide variety of beliefs – except the beliefs of churches that view homosexuality as not sinful.

        • I agree PE. There is no reason to change the policy unless you have a desire to include the BSA as part of some other agenda. I don’t define myself by my sexuality but I believe its just a known by my friends and family. Scouting does define who I am in part but ultimately I define myself by my faith and my relationship with God; my choice. I don’t believe all homosexuals define themselves by their sexuality but the homosexual activists certainly do. Their agenda of trying to normalize their culture and lifestyle shouldn’t include having earned the badge of hijacking the BSA to unwillingly become part of their agenda and then touting that victory as another reason other organizations that don’t accept their lifestyle and behavior as normal should join up with their cause or accept the same media wrath they’ll bring down upon their organization and its leaders. “Look out Baptists and Catholics; the BSA’s going to become part of the stick beating you into submission to change your beliefs and core values.”

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