This topic contains 2 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by Commissioner Ben 3 years, 9 months ago.
June 3, 2015 at 11:02 am #40838
In his speech at this year’s BSA National Meeting, BSA president Robert Gates had this to say about whether to allow gay leaders in BSA’s traditional programs:
“Waiting for the courts is a gamble with huge stakes. Alternatively, we can move at some future date – but sooner rather than later – to seize control of our own future, set our own course and change our policy in order to allow charter partners – unit sponsoring organizations – to determine the standards for their scout leaders. Such an approach would allow all churches, which sponsor some 70% of our scout units, to establish leadership standards consistent with their faith. * * * I support a policy that accepts and respects our different perspectives and beliefs, allows religious organizations – based on first amendment protection of religious freedom – to establish their own standards for adult leaders, and preserves the Boy Scouts of America now and forever. I truly fear that any other alternative will be the end of us as a national movement.”
As to membership standards, I believe that Mr. Gate’s proposed solution is right, but too limited. First, BSA should change its policy to allow religious organizations to not only to establish their own standards for adult leaders, but also for youth members. Second, BSA should change its policy to allow Chartered Organizations to eliminate other membership restrictions that currently exist, so that the units sponsored by that CO could accept atheists and agnostics, and accept females into programs that are currently only for boys.
A policy of Chartered Organization Choice would take us all the way to achieving the goal Mr. Gates set out: “a policy that accepts and respects our different perspectives and beliefs.”
Again, the choices made by a Chartered Organization would extend only to the units sponsored by that CO (or, in the case of national organizations such as churches, to the units sponsored by the local COs under the authority of that national organization. This would require some changes to make our programs amenable to a diverse membership; but at the same time, BSA would assist COs in developing program modules to incorporate elements no longer present in the “generic” program, such as Duty to God modules and boys-only activities.
June 3, 2015 at 5:13 pm #40865
Well, if the only motivation was to maintain standing in some states …
This might have worked if that had been BSA’s line from the 60s. If they had let units who wanted to segregate by race do so openly, likewise with atheists, and, recently, homosexuals.
In this political climate of “take-no-prisoners”, I don’t think this is a workable option. BSA will be put upon with unrelenting fervor for chartering any CO who discriminates.
If we really believe that a unit in the heartland has no business telling a unit on the coast how to screen its leaders and members, then maybe this is the right thing to do. But, we have to be convinced that every unit will be accepting of every other one at regional and national events.
June 4, 2015 at 6:41 am #40900
I also agree that Robert Gates has the right idea of modifying our own policy before the courts do. I think members of our organization will be less likely to reject a change coming from National than if a court order forced us to change.
However, I think creating a “standard” that doesn’t cover every unit will create more problems than it’s supposed to solve. I completely understand that different communities have different values (i.e. San Francisco vs. Topeka), and I wish we could incorporate a national system that allows those local communities to pass on those different values to their children. But in the end, I don’t think a system like works like that is doable for an organization as large as the BSA is.
Personally, whether I participate or whether I let my kids participate isn’t determined one way or another by whether gay leaders and youth are allowed or banned. I believe it’s still possible to pass in your own values (whatever they are) to your children despite the current or future BSA policy on gays. And I also understand a lot of people don’t believe that. I’m sorry they feel that way. My wife and I tell our kids, “here’s what we believe. Not everyone shares that belief. Just be respectful, regardless of how respectful they are of you. And when you guys get older and you think mom and dad are nuts, it’s ok if develop different opinions on the world.”
I am interested to hear thoughts from other leaders.