Scouts to accept openly gay boys

Gay Scout leaders still banned.
Associated Press
May 24, 2013

 

The Boy Scouts of America threw open its ranks Thursday to gay Scouts but not gay Scout leaders — a fiercely contested compromise that some warned could fracture the organization and lead to mass defections of members and donors.

Of the roughly 1,400 voting members of the BSA's National Council who cast ballots, 61 percent supported the proposal drafted by the governing Executive Committee. The policy change takes effect Jan. 1.

"This has been a challenging chapter in our history," the BSA chief executive, Wayne Brock, said after the vote. "While people have differing opinions on this policy, kids are better off when they're in Scouting."

However, the outcome will not end the bitter debate over the Scouts' membership policy.

Liberal Scout leaders — while supporting the proposal to accept gay youth — have made clear they want the ban on gay adults lifted as well.

In contrast, conservatives with the Scouts — including some churches that sponsor Scout units — wanted to continue excluding gay youths, in some cases threatening to defect if the ban were lifted.

"We are deeply saddened," said Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's executive committee after learning of the result. "Homosexual behavior is incompatible with the principles enshrined in the Scout oath and Scout law."

The Assemblies of God, another conservative denomination, said the policy change "will lead to a mass exodus from the Boy Scout program." It also warned that the change would make the BSA vulnerable to lawsuits seeking to end the ban on gay adults.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry also expressed dismay.

"While I will always cherish my time as a Scout and the life lessons I learned, I am greatly disappointed with this decision," he said.

The result was welcomed by many liberal members of the Scouting community and by gay-rights activists, though most of the praise was coupled with calls for ending the ban on gay adults.

"I'm so proud of how far we've come, but until there's a place for everyone in Scouting, my work will continue," said Jennifer Tyrrell, whose ouster as a Cub Scout den leader in Ohio because she is lesbian launched a national protest movement.

Pascal Tessier, a 16-year-old Boy Scout from Maryland, was elated by the outcome.

Tessier, who is openly gay, is on track to earn his Eagle Scout award and was concerned that his goal would be thwarted if the proposed change had been rejected.

"I was thinking that today could be my last day as a Boy Scout," Tessier said. "Obviously, for gay Scouts like me, this vote is life-changing."

The vote followed what the BSA described as "the most comprehensive listening exercise in Scouting's history" to gauge opinions.

Back in January, the BSA executive committee had suggested a plan to give sponsors of local Scout units the option of admitting gays as both youth members and adult leaders or continuing to exclude them. However, the plan won little praise, and the BSA changed course after assessing responses to surveys sent out starting in February to members of the Scouting community.

Of the more than 200,000 leaders, parents and youth members who responded, 61 percent supported the current policy of excluding gays, while 34 percent opposed it. Most parents of young Scouts, as well as youth members themselves, opposed the ban.

The proposal approved Thursday was seen as a compromise, and the Scouts stressed that they would not condone sexual conduct by any Scout — gay or straight.

"The Boy Scouts of America will not 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 said in a statement.

Since the executive committee just completed a lengthy review process, there were "no plans for further review on this matter," the group added, indicating it would not be revisiting the ban on gay adults anytime soon.

Among those voting for the proposal to accept openly gay youth was Thomas Roberts, of Dawsonville, Ga., who serves on the board of a Scout council in northeast Georgia.

"It was a very hard decision for this organization," he said. "I think ultimately it will be viewed as the right thing."

The BSA's overall "traditional youth membership" — Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Venturers — is now about 2.6 million, compared with more than 4 million in peak years of the past. It also has about 1 million adult leaders and volunteers.

Of the more than 100,000 Scouting units in the U.S., 70 percent are chartered by religious institutions.

Those include liberal churches opposed to any ban on gays, but some of the largest sponsors are relatively conservative denominations that have previously supported the broad ban — notably the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Southern Baptist churches.

While the Southern Baptists were clearly upset by the vote to accept openly gay youth, the Mormon church reacted positively.

"We trust that BSA will implement and administer the approved policy in an appropriate and effective manner," an official LDS statement said.

The National Catholic Committee on Scouting responded cautiously, saying it would assess the possible impact of the change on Catholic-sponsored Scout units.

The BSA, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2010, has long excluded both gays and atheists.

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.

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Crary reported from New York.

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Online:

BSA Membership Standards Resolution: http://bit.ly/185yyXk

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Follow David Crary on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/craryap .

Follow Nomaan Merchant on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nomaanmerchant .

 

Comments

thinkagain's picture
thinkagain

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).

The Big Dog's back

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).

The Bizness

Just out of curiosity, how does a being gay, mean you are God hating?

Have you ever heard of the log cabin republicans?

Know any religious gay people?

WiseManOnceSaid

Is it really any different? whether they come out as a scout or they wait 10 more years?

Eph 2 8-10

Why does anyone need to be "OPEN" about their sex life? Don't tell me about it. I'm NOT interested! Just keep your mouth shut. Then we won't need decisions like this that will affect thousands, perhaps millions.

deertracker

"Openly gay" means you don't try to hide it, not that you have to announce it. I agree with you though. Just keep your business to yourself, straight or gay. It is a privacy issue to me!

ColdAsIce

Yeah, I'm kinda with you on this one. I don't care what anyone does in their bedroom.. Get an education and be a contributor to society. That's all that I care about.

The Answer Person

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).

WhyRweHere

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

Contango

How EXACTLY will the BSA determine if a candidate for scouting is "openly gay"?

What are the guidelines?

Will a demonstration be necessary?

Will "closet gays" also be accepted?

What if they're just effeminate, but NOT gay?

Nemesis

Simple - does the candidate state openly that they are gay.

Minuteman

No, the question would not be asked. Why would
they ask a kid if he's gay? Or straight? Now that the boy scouts have been forced to take a stand on the issue, what organization is next in the crosshairs? Onward!

mrite

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

Contango

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

LOL.

The SR posts a picture of a kid in a scout union with the accompanying headline about being "openly gay"; I ask if he IS gay and MY post gets deleted?

The Bizness

This post is funny

and your previous post brings up some good questions.

Contango

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).

LOL.

I mention that we've had lesbian couples over for dinner (the truth) and my post gets deleted?

The Bizness

agree %100 all of my gay friends keep it to themselves unless someone asks them a question about it.

A private organization such as the Boy Scouts has its right to not let people of certain sexuality in, it appears they voted this way because they didn't want the bad publicity.

44846GWP

Why would you mention you had a lesbian couple over for dinner? Thats like saying "I know black people, even had some over for dinner". Get it?

JERRY from SANDUSKY

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

SamAdams

I know gay people who are "obviously" gay. I also know gay people that don't meet any of the stereotypes. I know straight people who are ALSO "obviously" gay if you use the stereotypes as your guide. I suspect that the speculation alone is going to continue to cause rifts within the Boy Scouts!

Meanwhile, aren't Boy Scouts kids? Don't you have to be under 18 to join up? If that's the case, why are these children "openly" ANYthing??? Do the Scouts promote sexual relationships for kids now? Even the older Scouts who may or may not have girlfriends or boyfriends don't bring them to Scout meetings, etc., so there's no point here except for some kind of a "win" for the activists.

And The Bizness made the most important point of all here: The Scouts is a PRIVATE ORGANIZATION. They have every right to determine who does — and who does not — qualify for membership. Don't like it? Don't join it. Don't support it. Start your own group. But FORCING such change under duress does nothing but change the group you allegedly want so badly to be a part of and, by the time you join up, is no longer that same group.

Sad...

Nemesis

Exactly, Sam - Scouts are supposed to not be sexually active. If a kid declares an alternate sexuality, it's assumed he is pursuing it.

rec8888

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights) and Remarks that discriminate based on age, race, religion, disability, etc..

The Bizness

It was not forced

Nemesis

That depends upon your definition of forced. There are degrees of duress.

WiseManOnceSaid

The Bible is the best selling fiction book of all time

shucks

How about the Koran? Fiction too?

44846GWP

Yes, it is.

shucks

WiseManOnceSaid-- answer the question please.

Is the Koran fiction?

shucks

You don't have the guts... eh, WiseManOnceSaid ?

Contango

Perhaps he's on break.

Regardless:

Mohammad channeled the Quran from the angel Gabriel.

Numerous authors channeled the Books of the Bible plus the Apocrypha from several Judeo-Christian gods and their servants.

Kind of a toss-up as to which one is literal "fiction" as they both equally fit into the category.

shucks

You are a channel.

Contango

@ 4shizzle:

Back to topic: As a GOOD Christian why do you hate gays?

shucks

"Also, if you post without quotation marks, you're trying to hand off someone else's work as your own - that's plagiarism."

Since You think you're a lawyer...don't you know that when you commit LIBEL , it is against the law?

You really shouldn't drink and comment , it's bad for your image. (LOL !)

Oh, you are soooo educated,

Contango

@ 4shizzle:

So you LOVE gays? What would Jesus say?

He did hang out with twelve guys. HUM...

shucks

What Jesus ? The Bible is fiction, right?

Gee, you wouldn't be trying to pick a fight- would you?

Drunk already? Wait...it IS later in the day.

Contango

@ 4shizzle:

Simple question: So what do you THINK of gays and lesbians?

Answer or we're done here.

shucks

Have a good day cupcake !

shucks

I gotta go to church.

thinkagain's picture
thinkagain

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

TrollingRageind...

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Profane, obscene, sexual or derogatory language.

44846GWP

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Profane, obscene, sexual or derogatory language.

ColdAsIce

This whole post has been censored by moderators... Wish I could have read their
opinions. So much for freedom of speech.

Nemesis

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

How exactly do remarks discriminate? Discrimination is an act that denies someone something. For an organization for which free expression is its lifeblood, the Register sure is afraid of a lot of ideas being expressed.

donutshopguy

My personal opinion is that the Boy Scouts will take a financial hit on this one. They have positioned people to take sides. That's not a good option for non-profit organizations that need public support.

The Boy Scout organization is not growing. It's not the same as it once was and will most likely fade off in the future.

Nemesis

That plus 80% of Scout troops are sponsored by Catholic, LDS, or Southern Baptist congregations. All three denominations are pretty clear in their opposition, and all three have the resources to form comparable alternative organizations. The Assemblies of God denomination already did so quite successfully decades ago.

The message the Scouts sent to kids today is, if your values are not popular, change them.

All reasonable people posit a line between morally acceptable and unacceptable sexual behavior. Placing that line in a slightly different place than is fashionable has become the highest form of thoughtcrime.

Contango

Nemesis writes:

"Simple - does the candidate state openly that they are gay."

NOTHING "simple" about it.

The full text and definitions remain to be seen. I saw nothing on the BSA website.

Nemesis

That is the standard definition of openly gay, as used in the DoD under don't ask, don't tell. Under that program, one's declaration that they are gay was taken as a statement of intent to violate the military's ban on homosexual conduct. Since the BSA expects members to refrain from all sexual conduct, homo or hetero, it's very applicable to this context.

No one can know what is in the mind of another without the other telling them.

Contango

Re: "...it's very applicable to this context."

Regardless, without seeing the guidelines AS WRITTEN, you do not know what is and is not "applicable." Pure speculation.

Nemesis

What exactly are you seeking? First of all, the FUTURE guidelines are irrelevant, since they are changing to allowing membership. The outgoing policy, from their website, is:

"While the BSA does not proactively inquire about the sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or members, we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA."

That's a carbon copy of don't ask, don't tell. They do not proactively ask, but if an individual openly claims to be gay, or engages in homosexual behavior, then they were excluded. You're all hung up on what the new guidelines will be when they don't matter - the criteria of being openly gay will now be ignored with regard to youth membership policy. In other words, they have reduced the circumstances when they would care whether an individual is "openly gay" - that doesn't change the definition of that status, which has already been stated as exactly what I said it was.

WaterStreetCooncat

If the boys are OPENLY gay, why not let them join the Girl Scouts? Same with OPENLY lesbian girls-let them join the Boy Scouts. Everyone will get what they want.

Informed

Some people are just ignorant.

8ballinthesidepocket

Guess they will have to change the Boy Scout creed..something about being morally straight. What a travesty the continuing moral decay of this country led by the libs and ACLU .