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The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) reconsiders ban on gay youths

2013-MAY-23: Reaction to the BSA national
council vote by: The Mormon Church, Metropolitan
Community Church,
and On My Honor.Net

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This topic is a continuation from the previous essay.

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Reactions by various faith groups, parachurch groups, secular human rights organizations, etc. in alphabetical order (Cont'd):

  • By the Mormon Church:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (a.k.a. LDS Church, Mormons) sponsors the largest number of troops of any organization in the U.S. They issued a statement:

"For the past 100 years, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has enjoyed a strong relationship with Boy Scouts of America, based on our mutual interest in helping boys and young men understand and live their duty to God and develop upright moral behavior. As the Church moves forward in its association with the Boy Scouts of America, Church leaders will continue to seek the most effective ways to address the diverse needs of young people in the United States and throughout the world.

The Church’s long-established policy for participation in activities is stated in the basic instructional handbook used by lay leaders of the Church: “young men … who agree to abide by Church standards” are “welcomed warmly and encouraged to participate” (Handbook 2: Administering the Church [2010], 8.17.3). This policy applies to Church-sponsored Scout units. Sexual orientation has not previously been -- and is not now -- a disqualifying factor for boys who want to join Latter-day Saint Scout troops. Willingness to abide by standards of behavior continues to be our compelling interest.

These standards are outlined in the booklet For the Strength of Youth and include abstinence from sexual relationships. We remain firmly committed to upholding these standards and to protecting and strengthening boys and young men.

The Church appreciates BSA’s reaffirmation of its commitment to “duty to God,” which includes service to others and moral behavior—central principles of our teaching to young men. As in the past, the Church will work with BSA to harmonize what Scouting has to offer with the varying needs of our young men. We trust that BSA will implement and administer the approved policy in an appropriate and effective manner." 1,2

  • By the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC):

The MCC is a Christian denomination for the LGBT community and their straight supporters. Their Public Policy Team issued a statement saying:

"Today, the 1400 member national council of the Boy Scouts of America, meeting in Texas, voted to allow openly gay youth to join the Scouts effective January of 2014, while continuing to ban openly gay Scout leaders.  Council spokespersons said that while people have differing opinions on this policy revision, most agree that youth are better off because of their involvement in Scouting troops and activities.

While we applaud the decision to welcome gay scouts, we believe the amended policy sends a mixed message to youth seeking to integrate their sexual orientations and gender identities into their full personhood as they grow and mature.

Children are not better off when they are left without strong role models who represent the deepest truest parts of who they are as people of God, a truth sadly reflected in the scores of LGBT youth who suffer greater rates of homelessness and bullying than their non-gay peers.

As people of faith we call on the Boy Scouts of America to remedy the confusion youth will experience because of their new policy, and act to include all  youth and adults who seek to participate in Scouting, help other people, and keep themselves mentally awake and on a path of moral integrity." 3

Webmaster's note: (Bias alert) I cannot understand the MCC's position that bullying is caused because gays do not have strong role models. I feel that the responsibility for bullying lies:

  • Primarily in the bullying individuals themselves, as well as
  • The latter's families and churches (if any) who have failed to teach them to care about other people, and
  • The schools that gays attend for not having anti-bullying campaigns in force.

Also, my opinion is that the main causes for homelessness among gay youth is:

  • Parents who kick their children out of the home when their children come out of the closet, as well as
  • The parent's churches (if any) that teach falsehoods about sexual orientation, and
  • The parachurch anti-gay hate groups who spread those falsehoods. 4

Gay and lesbian youth represent about 5% of the youth population, but about 40% of the homeless youth population. They are over-represented by about a factor of 8.

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  • By John Stemberger, founder of OnMyHonor.net:

His group is one of the main national organizations whose main mandate is to oppose changing the BSA discriminatory membership policy. He said, in part:

“It is with great sadness and deep disappointment that we recognize on this day that the most influential youth program in America has turned a tragic corner. The vote today to allow open and avowed homosexuality into Scouting will completely transform it into an unprincipled and risky proposition for parents. It is truly a sad day for Scouting.

The Boy Scouts of America has a logo that bears the phrase ‘Timeless Values.’ Today, the BSA can no longer use this phrase in good faith.  It has demonstrated by its actions that the organization’s values are not timeless, and instead they are governed by changing tides of polls, politics and public opinion.

The saddest part of today’s decision is what the organization is teaching our children and young people in the program.

The BSA is teaching our kids that when your values become unpopular, just change them.

The BSA is teaching our kids that when your convictions are challenged, just cave to peer pressure.

The BSA is teaching our kids that public opinion polls are more important than principles.

Today, the BSA is teaching our kids that you should not stand up for what is right instead you should stand up for what is popular.

The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to “prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law.”

BSA is teaching our kids through its new mission that we don’t make ethical and moral choices through the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law but we make them like an unprincipled politician does, by putting your finger in the air and seeing which way the wind is blowing or by looking at the latest polling results.

What kind of a message are we sending to young people about being brave when its top adult leaders don’t even have the courage to stand up to the pressure of a militant lobby when the bullies in Washington DC, Hollywood or even some of their own renegade councils start pressuring and harassing them? 

Each and every one of the thousands of Scouting families that have supported and followed our movement must now make a very difficult decision.  We respect the right for each parent and family to decide whether they will continue their membership in the Boy Scouts of American [sic] or not.

Many, like me and my family, cannot continue to support an organization more concerned with the intolerant demands of activists while compromising the safety and security of the young people they swore to serve.  In July of last year, after a two year study from 2010 to 2012, the BSA’s eleven member task force unanimously concluded that their existing policy on this issue was “the absolute best policy for the Boy Scouts of America.”  Suddenly, less than a year later, that is abruptly reversed.

We hoped to keep sex and politics out of Scouting. Now we grieve for those young boys who will not have the wonderful traditions and experiences that so many of us have had in Scouting.

Despite this setback, we will look to the future. I am pleased to announce that OnMyHonor.Net along with other like minded organizations, parents and BSA members, are announcing a coalition meeting that will take place next month in Louisville, Kentucky. There we will discuss the creation of a new character development organization for boys. While the meeting will be private, your voice is very important to us and will be represented there.  We will host and facilitate a national coalition meeting of former BSA parents and other youth leaders who wish to return to truly timeless values that once made the BSA great.  We welcome your comments as we develop our plans. Please share your thoughts with us at Contact@OnMyHonor.Net

We grieve today, not because we are faced with leaving Scouting, but because the Boy Scouts of America has left us. Its leadership has turned its back on 103 years of abiding by a mission to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices.  Instead, it is embarking on a pathway of social experimentation that we believe will place at risk the very youth the organization is entrusted to serve, while rendering as hollow the tenets of the Scout Oath.  Many of us find that unacceptable, and we have a desire to explore how we might serve families and young people at the highest standard originally intended by Scouting’s founder, Robert Baden-Powell." 5

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This topic continues in the next essay.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Ross Murray, "Faith groups react to the Boy Scouts' vote to drop the ban on gay Scouts," GLAAD, 2013-MAY-23, at: http://www.glaad.org/
  2. "Church Responds to Boy Scouts Policy Vote," The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints newsroom, 2013-MAY-23, at: http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/
  3. "christoffer, "Public Policy Team of Metropolitan Community Churches Calls for Full Inclusion by Boy Scouts of America," Metropolitan Community Churches, 2013-MAY-23, at: http://mccchurch.org/
  4. "18 Anti-Gay Groups and Their Propaganda," Southern Poverty Law Center, Intelligence Report, Issue #40, Winter 2010. Online at: http://www.splcenter.org/
  5. John Stemberger, "Thank you for standing strong," OnMyHonor.Net, 2013-MAY-23, at: http://www.onmyhonor.net/

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Home > Religious conflict > U.S. & Worldwide > Boy Scouts > Reconsider gays > here

or Home > Hot topics > Homosexuality & bisexuality > Homophobia > Boy Scouts > Reconsider gays > here

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Copyright 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
Original posting: 2013-MAY-23
Latest updated: 2013-MAY-25
Author: B.A. Robinson

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