Ask the Expert: Is it a violation of BSA policy to have “closed” meetings?

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We received the following question from Janet Riley:

Our Patrol Leaders Council is a closed meeting. When my son wanted to present some camping ideas to the PLC, he had to get special permission from the SPL to do so.

I was specifically asked not to come in [to the meeting] when my son did because the SM said it would be perceived as “interference.”
I am the committee chair and told our Scoutmaster that it is a violation of BSA policy to have closed PLC meetings. Who's right?

Janet is referring to Youth Protection Guidelines, which every adult volunteer must know. Here's the specific excerpt she cited:

"No secret organizations. The Boy Scouts of America does not recognize any secret organizations as part of its program. All aspects of the Scouting program are open to observation by parents and leaders."

To interpret the rules, we asked Joe Glasscock. Here's his response:

This is an issue where both sides have a point. The PLC meeting is a closed meeting, not a secret one. I can see the Scoutmaster's point that having a lot of extra people would be a distraction.

On the other hand, any parent, and certainly the Committee Chair, should be allowed to attend with the understanding that they would be seated in an outer circle and would not have voice in the decisions of the PLC.

We hope that clears it up for you, Janet. Thanks for your question!

About Bryan Wendell 3281 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.