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Scouts - BSA Membership Policy Change!

posted May 24, 2013, 7:43 AM by Greg Jewett   [ updated May 24, 2013, 2:34 PM ]
May 23, 2013
In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the Boy Scouts of America's right as a private organization to determine its own membership standards. Today, the Boy Scouts of America has exercised those rights.

The Boy Scouts of America's National Executive Board, local council representatives and hundreds of chartering organization partners voted to eliminate the youth membership policy concerning sexual orientation. This decision comes after months of careful consideration by the highest volunteer leaders in Scouting, weighing an enormous amount of feedback from those actively involved in Scouting across the country and representing both sides of the debate. 

Today's decision is a change in policy but Scouting's mission remains the same: delivering the nation's foremost youth program for character development and values-based leadership training through the Scout Oath and Law.  

Faith has been and remains today a bedrock principle of the Scouting program. Scouting has chartering organization agreements with the Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, and many other faiths, as well as many non-denominational faith communities. We want to thank these and all of our chartering organizations for contributing their insight to this complex and often challenging discussion.

While members of Scouting have differing opinions on this policy decision, everyone agrees that children are better off when they are in Scouting. Our volunteer and professional staff will continue working tirelessly to provide a great Scouting experience to the youth of Central Texas. We are grateful for the more than 7,000 amazing volunteers who give their time, talent and treasure for the benefit of the more than 24,000 children in our program.


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SUMMARY/FAQ – 2013 MEMBERSHIP POLICY CHANGE

May 23, 2013

The Decision

The national Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America, local council representatives and chartering organizations voted to eliminate the national youth membership policy regarding sexual orientation.

No chartering organization (house of worship, service club, PTA, VFW Post, Rotary Club, etc) may use sexual orientation to deny youth membership in Scouting.

What Does Not Change

For more than 100 years, Scouting’s mission has been to deliver the nation’s foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training through the Scout Oath and Law.

Chartering organizations own individual Scouting units through a partnership agreement with the Boy Scouts of America. These organizations help select adult leaders for their Scouting program.

Many families involved in Scouting believe Scouting is not a place to discuss sexuality and instead believe it an issue for parents to discuss with their children.

In keeping with the Youth Protection Policies of the Boy Scouts of America, all adult members (regardless of sexual orientation) are not permitted to discuss sexuality with youth members.

Sexual contact between an adult and a Scout will be reported to law enforcement, result in revocation of membership and placement on Scouting’s Ineligible Volunteer file, in accordance with the Youth Protection Policies of the Boy Scouts of America.

Scouting is an apolitical organization and does not have (nor has it ever had) a position on LGBTQ rights.

The phrase “Duty to God” remains in the Scout Oath and “Reverent” remains the 12th point of the Scout Law. The “Declaration of Religious Principle” (requiring a belief in a higher power but not specifying how someone worships) remains a requirement for membership in the Boy Scouts of America.

Scouting has a tremendous partnership with Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Islamic as well as many non-denominational faith communities.

What’s Behind This Decision?

Nationwide surveys of the general public and current members of Scouting showed a significant shift in attitudes over the past three years regarding the BSA policy on homosexuality. While there are many adult leaders in the Scouting community who supported the previous policy of excluding openly gay members, an increasing number of younger leaders, parents and teen members wanted the policy to change.

In particular, views among parents 25-to-54, in the general population and in Scouting, have changed significantly since 2010.

Three years ago, 57 percent of parents of current Scouts supported the policy. Today, only 48 percent of parents of current Scouts support the policy.

Three years ago, parents in the general public supported the current BSA policy by a wide margin—58 percent to 29 percent. Today, parents oppose the policy by a 45 percent to 42 percent margin.

Of six scenarios presented in surveys to parents, teens, and members of the Scouting community, the one scenario with which overwhelming majorities of parents, teens, and members of the Scouting community strongly agree is that it would be unacceptable to deny an openly gay Scout an Eagle Scout Award solely because of his sexual orientation.

Among general population teens and Boy Scouts and Venturers alike, a majority oppose the previous membership policy banning homosexual members.

Isn’t This Decision Contrary To Scouting Values?

The membership policy regarding sexual orientation was implemented in the 1980’s and the Boy Scouts of America began in 1910. The previous sexual orientation restriction has not always been a part of the Scouting membership policy.

In the national “Voice of the Scout” survey, a majority of current Boy Scouts and Venturers said the previous policy prohibiting openly gay members does not represent a core value of Scouting as outlined in the Scout Oath and Scout Law.

Isn’t This Decision Contrary To The Scout Oath’s “Duty To God”?

Scouting does not specify one faith for its members. It is up to each individual member and his/her clergy to determine the specific beliefs of their faith.

In February 2013, the national Jewish Committee on Scouting voted overwhelmingly to lift the BSA membership restriction regarding sexual orientation.

On April 25, 2013, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced that, “...we have followed the discussion and are satisfied that BSA has made a thoughtful, good-faith effort to address issues that, as they have said, remain 'among the most complex and challenging issues facing the BSA and society today.'... We are grateful to BSA for their careful consideration of these issues. We appreciate the positive things contained in this current proposal that will help build and strengthen the moral character and leadership skills of youth as we work together in the future.”

On May 15, 2013, the National Catholic Committee on Scouting announced that, “The NCCS will continue to work with Catholic dioceses in their relationship with BSA and in assisting their guidance of troops affiliated with Catholic parishes and schools. We realize that the BSA Membership Standards Resolution deals with a difficult and sensitive topic. As the time for the vote draws near, we encourage all to treat one another with courtesy, respect, and kindness, and to direct prayers to the Great Master of All Scouts for the benefit of the Scouting Movement.”

Isn’t This All About Money And Pressure From Corporate Sponsors?

Much attention has been focused on the handful of national corporations which chose to no longer support Scouting after the July 2012 decision to reaffirm the policy excluding gays. However, this is nothing new. Some local businesses, United Way chapters and donors have not supported Scouting since the 2000 U.S. Supreme Court decision (Boy Scouts of America v. Dale) ruling on Scouting’s right as a private organization to set its own membership policies.

What Happened To Giving Local Chartered Organizations The Choice To Continue The Previous Policy?

A clear majority of those surveyed in the national “Voice of the Scout” survey either totally opposed or strongly opposed giving local chartered organizations a choice of multiple membership policies.

The national Executive Committee of the Boy Scouts of America removed the local chartered organization choice option in the revised membership policy proposal released April 19, 2013. That new proposal resulted in a significant decrease in anxiety and complaints regarding the membership policy discussion among national chartered organizations as well as rank and file Scout leaders.

Registered adult members in Central Texas were surveyed after the first policy proposal, which would have required chartered organization to choose a membership policy. At that time, 51 percent said they would prefer to keep the membership policy prohibiting openly gay members.

The same registered adult members in Central Texas were surveyed again after the national Boy Scouts of America released a revised membership policy removing the chartered organization choice of policy and allowing openly gay youth members. At that that time, 60 percent said they would prefer for the membership to change, allowing openly gay youth members.

Going Forward

Our volunteer and professional staff will continue working tirelessly to provide a great Scouting experience to the youth of Central Texas. We are grateful for the more than 7,000 amazing volunteers who give their time, talent and treasure for the benefit of children.

While members of Scouting have differing opinions on this policy decision, everyone agrees that children are better off when they are in Scouting. Our volunteer and professional staff will continue working tirelessly to provide a great Scouting experience to the youth of Central Texas. We are grateful for the more than 7,000 amazing volunteers who give their time, talent and treasure for the benefit of the more than 24,000 children in our program. 


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