Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Finally some good news for the Boy Scouts of America.

Courtesy of NBC News:  

The Boy Scouts of America, one of the nation’s largest private youth organizations, is actively considering an end to its decades-long policy of banning gay scouts or scout leaders, according to scouting officials and outsiders familiar with internal discussions. 

If adopted by the organization’s board of directors, it would represent a profound change on an issue that has been highly controversial -- one that even went to the US Supreme Court. The new policy, now under discussion, would eliminate the ban from the national organization’s rules, leaving local sponsoring organizations free to decide for themselves whether to admit gay scouts. 

“The chartered organizations that oversee and deliver scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with their organization’s mission, principles or religious beliefs,” according to Deron Smith, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts’ national organization. 

Individual sponsors and parents “would be able to choose a local unit which best meets the needs of their families,” Smith said. 

The discussion of a potential change in policy is nearing its final stages, according to outside scouting supporters. If approved, the change could be announced as early as next week, after the BSA's national board holds a regularly scheduled meeting.

Well this is excellent news, though I think it would be much better if the BSA were to adopt a non-discrimination policy nationally.

However considering that I just reported yesterday about a Maryland troop having to remove a statement favoring diversity from their website, this quick turnaround is rather startling, and hopefully indicative of more positive changes to come.

You know there really ARE some admirable things about the Boy Scouts, such as teaching self reliance, getting kids out into nature, and teaching them problem solving skills that really can come in quite handy.

I would like to see them return to their roots and be an organization that took pride in helping young boys become men, rather than one that teaches discrimination or attempts to indoctrinate them into religious cults. Perhaps that day is coming soon.


  1. Money talks. The Boy Scouts have lost a lot of funding recently because of their discriminatory policies. The Mormon Church is VERY active in scouting. But I'm sure that has nothing to do with Boy Scout policies.

  2. Anonymous5:51 AM

    Todd was a Boy Scout and earned the "Pimp" badge

  3. Anonymous6:43 AM

    A large source of funding is through United Way Charities, which, over time, will have to be more responsive to changes in our society's attitudes towards the hot-button social issues. But many, many of the troops are sponsored by churches, so they will influence the councils and troops' policies on these issues.

    In our situation, which is fairly unique, because our troop is in a southern state, our sponsor is a fairly liberal Presbyterian Church, who has been very supportive of the troop as we have fought against these discriminatory policies. But I am proud of the boys and the leadership for taking a stand. We have lost some of our funding, but not our charter, which has never been threatened, because of the quality of work of the leaders and the boys who are truly the student-leaders of their troop.

    We operate differently than most troops, in that the input from leadership and parents is just that--input or advice, but the boys make the decisions, and then develop the action plans to follow through. Our demographics are pretty wide, much more diverse than the neighborhood or surrounding community, which is largely middle and upper middle class, affluent and almost exclusively white Christians, primarily Protestant.

    Our troop, on the other hand, has 3 boys that are athiest or agnostic, two are Muslim. 3 who are Jewish, and the other 15 or so are Christian, with about half of those being active in their churches and the others inactive.

    Talk about a learning experience! We as adult volunteers and some just as parents have learned so much about people with different or no religious affiliation. But what the boys learned quickly was that having a gap in religious beliefs would only be a hindrance if they allowed it to be. And they spoke up early about the inconsistencies in some of the creed of the Boy Scouts and the policies and made suggestions to alter our local charter to be more inclusive.

    The church sponsor is very generous; in fact, we are in a building project right now to accommodate expansion of our physical space, and the church is footing almost the entire expense. We will do some of the finish work, painting our colors, etc. Besides, this is a great learning experience for the boys to be involved in what THEY have created-a growing organization that is almost self-funded by their efforts and commitment to diversity and strong morals.

    Most of the older boys have advanced ranks that require a lot of service hours each quarter, and this gives those without a church to perform those hours. The church recognizes these boys, not so much for their reverence and focus on a particular religious ideology, but for their willingness to help their community improve by working to bring people of all walks of life together. The boys do food drives for the local food pantry on behalf of the troop, and the church recognizes them for doing so.

    Please don't paint all of the scouting participants as agreeing with all of the discriminatory policies of BSA. We've chosen to acknowledge the 90% good that scouting does already, and to work from WITHIN the organization to change that 10% that needs tweaking. And it's working. Not without some sacrifice of time and funding, but I'm so proud of the boys for working that tack rather than switching to one of the "like-scouting" clone groups that are either more, or sometimes less, inclusive. Needless to say, I'm glad that they didn't agree to support policies that they didn't believe in and wouldnt be comfortable with their own conscience. There was a lot of open discussion and soul-searching before they made the commitment, and they review their charter annually, which helps to reinforce "why" they chose the changes.

    It's sometimes easier to make changes among those with different attitudes and opinions because the opposition gets to witness firsthand the level of commitment to 95% of the shared goals and focus on those, not the differences between the two groups.

  4. Wouldn't it be great is the NRA got back to THEIR roots as a group promoting gun safety and responsible hunting, and got away from pimping kids to the amkers of assault weapons?

  5. Leland9:10 AM

    I will believe it is going to happen AFTER it actually happens!

  6. Anonymous9:11 AM

    Imagine what its like for the people of the world who do not live in the U.S., to constantly see Americans jumping up and down, screaming about how they are the only ones who are from the "home of the brave, land of the free."

    Only to constantly learn of stuff like this. That inequality reigns supreme, in every nook and cranny of American life.

    In this day and age, the only way a person can be free and equal in America, is to be a white older male, with undisclosed sexual proclivities...not too bright, and not working at suspicious sounding jobs.

  7. Anonymous9:40 AM

    Both Boy and Girl Scouts seem to be anachronistic throwbacks to another era, with their out of date handbooks and religious ties. There are much more progressive organizations for children of both sexes that teach the fundamentals of outdoor safety without trying to pigeonhole the children or brainwash them. National Outdoor Leadership Schools comes to mind.

  8. Chella9:53 AM

    My ex boyfriend was bisexual, like me, and he was an eagle scout. He loved the scouts enough to keep his sexuality hidden, even tho it hurt him to hear what some scout leaders said about homosexuality.

    He was a very handy guy to have around due to what he learned in the scouts, and he said that he would do it all over again if he had the chance.

    He just called me to tell me about this new non discrimination policy that they've been thinking about, and he is so excited to be able to feel completely welcomed into the program that in so many ways positively affected him as a child and young adult.

    He was never religious, like so many of us in our generation who were brought up in Sunday school and followed our parents religion, even tho we ourselves didn't believe.

    My mother knows of my bisexuality, but she does not know about my atheism. I am not hiding it from her because I feel like she would look down on me, or love me less. She believes that when we die, I will meet her again in heaven. I don't want to take that idea or notion away from her, it gives her comfort and I'd rather her be able to hold on to that.

    1. Anita Winecooler2:08 PM

      Your ex sounds like a great guy! Those children will be lucky to have him as a role model, regardless of who/how he loves!
      I understand your approach with your mom, I lived it, I used to be the same way, but was formally excommunicated and my mom still belongs to the same church She eventually came around rearding my Atheism. It was rough because she wanted me to have my kids baptized etc etc etc. and begged me to join a church, any church.
      I really regret what happened, but can't change it.
      She knows now how much I missed having her advice and love, especially when I became a mother for the first time.

  9. Anita Winecooler1:47 PM

    The BSA refused to allow our son to join because he told them he wasn't affiliated with any church. The thing about discrimination is that it paints the individual as "different", "other" or "less than" those accepted. Why should my son have to deny what he is just to belong? Why should a LGBT child or any child be forced to deny what they are?
    What really bothers me is the "out" that they'll leave it to the local community. It's still discrimination, but it's o.k. because, on paper, the national organization declared they may change their ban on gays.
    If you're a non profit organization and want to discriminate, you should give up the status. It's a privilege, not a Right.

  10. It will never happen.

    Too many Mormons on the board.


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