Scouts considering retreat from no-gays policy

The Boy Scouts of America may soon give sponsors of troops the authority to decide whether to accept gays as scouts and leaders — a potentially dramatic retreat from an exclusionary nationwide policy that has provoked relentless protests.
Associated Press
Jan 29, 2013

Under the change now being discussed, the different religious and civic groups that sponsor Scout units would be able to decide for themselves how to address the issue — either maintaining an exclusion of gays, as is now required of all units, or opening up their membership.

Monday's announcement of the possible change comes after years of protests over the no-gays policy — including petition campaigns that have prompted some corporations to suspend donations to the Boy Scouts.

Under the proposed change, said BSA spokesman Deron Smith, "the Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents."

Smith said the change could be announced as early as next week, after BSA's national board concludes a regularly scheduled meeting on Feb. 6. The meeting will be closed to the public.

The BSA, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2010, has long excluded both gays and atheists. Smith said a change in the policy toward atheists was not being considered, and that the BSA continued to view "Duty to God" as one of its basic principles.

Protests over the no-gays policy gained momentum in 2000, when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the BSA's right to exclude gays. Scout units lost sponsorships by public schools and other entities that adhered to nondiscrimination policies, and several local Scout councils made public their displeasure with the policy.

More recently, amid petition campaigns, shipping giant UPS Inc. and drug-manufacturer Merck announced that they were halting donations from their charitable foundations to the Boy Scouts as long as the no-gays policy was in force.

Also, local Scout officials drew widespread criticism in recent months for ousting Jennifer Tyrrell, a lesbian mom, as a den leader of her son's Cub Scout pack in Ohio and for refusing to approve an Eagle Scout application by Ryan Andresen, a California teen who came out as gay last fall.

Tyrrell said she's thrilled for parents and their children who've been excluded from scouting and "for those who are in Scouts and hiding who they are."

"For me it's not just about the Boy Scouts of America, it's about equality," she told The Associated Press. "This is a step toward equality in all aspects."

Many of the protest campaigns, including one seeking Tyrrell's reinstatement, had been waged with help from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.

"The Boy Scouts of America have heard from scouts, corporations and millions of Americans that discriminating against gay scouts and scout leaders is wrong," said Herndon Graddick, GLAAD's president. "Scouting is a valuable institution, and this change will only strengthen its core principles of fairness and respect."

The Scouts had reaffirmed the no-gays policy as recently as last year, and appeared to have strong backing from conservative religious denominations — notably the Mormons, Roman Catholics and Southern Baptists — which sponsor large numbers of Scout units. Under the proposed change, they could continue excluding gays.

Prior to Monday's announcement, the BSA conferred with some leaders of these religious groups, although there were no official statements as to how they would respond.

Said Sister Mary Ann Walsh, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, "The bishops hope the Boy Scouts will continue to work under the Judeo-Christians principles upon which they were founded and under which they have served youth well."

Were the change adopted, said Deron Smith, "there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation, and the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with each organization's mission, principles, or religious beliefs.

"BSA members and parents would be able to choose a local unit that best meets the needs of their families," he said. "Under this proposed policy, the BSA would not require any chartered organization to act in ways inconsistent with that organization's mission, principles, or religious beliefs."

The announcement came shortly after new data showed that membership in the Cub Scouts — the BSA's biggest division — dropped sharply last year, and was down nearly 30 percent over the past 14 years.

According to figures provided by the organization, Cub Scout ranks dwindled by 3.4 percent, from 1,583,166 in 2011 to 1,528,673 in 2012. That's down from 2.17 million in 1998.

The Boy Scouts attribute the decline largely to broad social changes, including the allure of video games and the proliferation of youth sports leagues and other options for after-school activities.

However, critics of the Scouts suggest that its recruitment efforts have been hampered by high-profile controversies — notably the court-ordered release of files dealing with sex abuse allegations and persistent protests over the no-gays policy.

The BSA's overall "traditional youth membership" — Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Venturers — totaled 2,658,794 in 2012, compared to more than 4 million in peak years of the past. There were 910,668 Boy Scouts last year, a tiny increase from 2011, while the ranks of Venturers — a program for youths 14 and older— declined by 5.5 percent.

In addition to flak over the no-gays policy, the Scouts have been buffeted by multiple court cases related to past allegations of sexual abuse by Scout leaders, including those chronicled in long-confidential records that are widely known as the "perversion files."

Through various cases, the Scouts have been forced to reveal files dating from the 1960s to 1991. They detailed numerous cases where abuse claims were made and Boy Scout officials never alerted authorities and sometimes actively sought to protect the accused.

The Scouts are now under a California court order, affirmed this month by the state Supreme Court, to turn over sex-abuse files from 1991 through 2011 to the lawyers for a former Scout who claims a leader molested him in 2007, when he was 13. It's not clear how soon the files might become public.

The BSA has apologized for past lapses and cover-ups, and has stressed the steps taken to improve youth protection policy. Since 2010, for example, it has mandated that any suspected abuse be reported to police.

 

Comments

Bluto

My logic is flawed , and your stereotypical views of these people are not ? You're priceless . Good luck with the moderators , sunshine . ; ))))

thinkagain

Don’t worry about me and the moderators. We have a mutual understanding, I write something and they delete it.

Having the freedom to express my rationale for standing against the homosexual agenda isn’t really expected from a liberal media outlet.

Bluto

Yet , you keep coming back for more . I do admire your tenacity though . Truly I do .

thinkagain

A Christian must always take a stand for Christ and His teachings.

People are naive and do not believe that this is spiritual warfare.

God’s revelation on love as it applies to human sexuality is unambiguous.

Romans 1:26-27

The part time Christian will read that verse and say, “I know what the Bible says, but we took a poll and you were out voted Lord”.

Jesus said to love your neighbor, but loving someone does not mean condoning their wrongs. Life is short and then comes eternity. Do not die in a lifestyle not pleasing to God and never accepting His free gift of eternal life.

Romans 6:23

Now we’ll see if the SR mods consider the teachings of Christ an unworthy comment.

Bluto

If there is a God , I doubt he , she , it would make the bible so twisted and full of hypocrisies that anyone could go into it and just slap down meaning to whatever best suits their agendas , but that seems to be the case most of the time . How can you believe in a higher power that hides from it's creations ? Why the big game ? You can quote all you like , but you're reading from a book of lies . Lies of men to control the masses . A tool to seize and hold power over others . These are just my beliefs , and I don't expect others to agree with them . I can accept that others believe differently from me without trying to control them just to suit my needs . Why can't you ?

thinkagain

Your logic is still flawed. Now in your latest diatribe, you condemn me for articulating my beliefs, while you ramble on doing the exact same thing. Same ol’ Bluto. Look up definition of a hypocrite.

Bluto

You keep rambling about flawed logic , yet you use the bible as a guide to your life . A book which has notoriously been used to persecute many others groups throughout history in order to achieve the goals of a select few . God did not write your bible . Men did . Men who , if they didn't like something , someone , or some philosophy , would twist the words to suit their agendas . You have been indoctrinated ( your words ) into a lifestyle where you believe a magical figure is looking over you from an imaginary realm where you think you'll go after death if deemed worthy . Where is the logic,the proof in that ? It's like still believing in Santa Claus , or the Easter Bunny . Yeah right , your the expert on logic . You are funny . Just to let you know the bible is filled with hypocrisy .

thinkagain

Is the Christian led by the Word of God only? No. One cannot understand the Bible without the leading of the Spirit. Man is a spiritual being in a corporeal body.

The bible only confirms what the Holy Spirit places in our hearts.

You just can't get the godless atheists to calm down and see reason.

They claim to be intellectual (and logical), yet find it reasonable to assume that something evolved from nothing.

Something cannot come from nothing and If you believe that it can, then unbelievers can never accuse believers of irrationality.

Being an atheist requires a greater leap of faith than the belief in the existence of a Creator.

Done with this article, unless someone actually enters into a logical debate. I’m sure I’ll see you on the next article concerning moral turpitude. Say hi to Popeye for me!

Bluto

Hi , Popeye . : ))) Take care .

44846GWP

You can't have a logical debate with a bigot. I think thou "protest too much", insecure with your own sexuality maybe??!! Me thinks so......

tell it how it is

Why don't you stop saying "your logic is flawed" to everyone. Just makes you look ignorant and unable to listen to other people's beliefs.
You also have no right to call anyone a hypocrite, when you're obviously one yourself.

shucks

Ask the fox guarding the hen house.

Azure Ray

Well, this might be a good idea since we are in the 21st century.

gilamonster

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Remarks that discriminate based on age, race, religion, disability, etc..

The Big Dog's back

Wow! All these deleted comments and I haven't even posted yet.

kURTje

Another example of how most follow $$ only. So dollars mandate their thinking? Did they sell out for $$ ? If so that makes them garbage.

Pterocarya frax...

Wow thinkagain...you are up to 4 deleted comments on 1 story...one more and you can set the record! I know you can do it..

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

It isn't just the scouts reviewing their policies, but I have read that many other organizations such as various churches and groups like the Masons, Eagles, Knights of Columbus, etc. are trying to recruit because numbers are down. Even in organized labor, though perhaps for slightly different reasons (I am sure on a Venn diagram there is a lot of overlapping though), participation and recruitment is down. I don't say this in support of or being against any policy or group, but overall participation in...most things honestly...is down. Even for me it is still a struggle at times to motivate people who may already read comics or play games to come to an event, free or otherwise.

I believe this is partly due to a lack of time and money as we all try to provide for ourselves and/or family and just what it is that is seen here: for good or bad the politicization or otherwise group-painting-broad-brush that is swept over participants of a hobby, religion, or social/political organization.

"Oh...you are in a union huh?"
"Oh...you are a Catholic huh?"
"Oh...you are a Democrat huh?"
"Oh...you are a [fill in the blank] huh?"

It is such an odd and somewhat vicious cycle that we all may go through as we want to enjoy the things we like, we find others who like it, we get vocal about our unifying bond, we get seen as obnoxious (real or perceived), we break apart, we want to enjoy what we liked...

That is perhaps where the scouts are finding themselves now. In the transition of obnoxious to broken which if this policy of theirs as "each will do as they will" goes through will begin the cycle again on the upswing. If I was a negative person I'd say "this is why we can't have nice things" but if you can be vigilant enough to ride the waves and forecast the seas and tempests you will be generally successful.

anthras

Hero, I do not know about the others however the Knights of Columbus has grown every year since 1973 and is at an all time high in membership.I think that would indicate that membership is not down. They have grown in all but 4 years since 1942. I think you may have just been expressing your feelings in lieu of facts but that is OK if it makes your comments sound better

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

That may be and I didn't quote figures as I didn't have any specifically (I had hoped my copious and deliberate use of broad terms would indicate that). I certainly have no ill will towards the KoC as I pay attention to their event signage every day I drive by them, but used them to represent a type of organization as I was framing my in-article-admittedly-broadly-observed lack of attendance and participation. There are probably specific churches, too, that have surged in popularity and that is just fine! In fact that is great if it is motivating people to get active in something!

The Masons were mentioned as a representative of locally-perceived "secret societies", churches for a purely faith-based group, Eagles as a social club, and Knights of Columbus as a hybrid. I have no animosity to any of these organizations nor was there any intent to make myself look good somehow at their expense individual or combined. So if I caused personal offense to you, I'm sorry there was a misunderstanding.

In looking at the official KoC website it seems that recruitment is a major factor in what they do having copious amounts of publicly-available resources to do just that. I may have missed the section talking about specific numbers so that I could see my error, but I think we each reached a resolution about the point?

WaterStreetCooncat

Why not they just start their own Gay/Lesbian/Bi Scout Troop?

LookingDown

To each their own! I really don't care what you do in your bedroom! Honestly you think that all "gay" people are child molesters? That says more about you than you think! That is like saying all priest abuse little boys just because a few have……….You people need to get your minds out of the gutters and that is sad coming from me! Because that’s where mine is all the time! LIVE AND LET LIVE! You don’t like it, don’t send your boy to that troop or better yet take the time with your own kid and start up your own troop and take on all the work since it bothers you so much what someone does in his/her bedroom. Sicko!

bullydogs1971

Why dont all the gays that want to be in boy scouts or "lead" them start their own club. Gay Boy Scouts of America! Problem solved.....!

tell it how it is

I am so appalled by people's honest discrimination towards gays. This article includes children's rights; do you people really think children should not be included just because of who they're attracted to? It is being proven that being gay is not a choice, but a chemical make-up in the brain. They can't help it. So let's shun them? No.
After reading these comments (or what one's weren't removed, on a story that obviously the comments would mention sexual orientation), I have even less hope for our area then I did before. I'm sickened by the opinions of people that live in my community.

thinkagain

There is no scientific proof of genetic or determinative physiological causal factors for homosexuality. It is a learned behavior.

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