Boy Scouts may soon give sponsors authority to allow gay leaders, members: Do you agree?

The Boy Scouts of America may soon give local sponsors the authority to decide whether to allow gays as scouts and leaders.

From The Associated Press via The Washington Post:

…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.

Gay-rights activists were elated at the prospect of change, sensing another milestone to go along with recent advances for same-sex marriage and the end of the ban on gays serving openly in the military.

However, Southern Baptist leaders — who consider homosexuality a sin — were furious about the possible change and said its approval might encourage Southern Baptist churches to support other boys’ organizations instead of the BSA.

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, pressure surfaced on the Scouts’ own national executive board. Two high-powered members — Ernst & Young CEO James Turley and AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson — indicated they would try to work from within to change the membership policy, which stood in contrast to their own companies’ non-discrimination policies.

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.”…

Read more on The Washington Post.

So what do you think: Should the Boy Scouts allow sponsors to decide if gays should be allowed as members or leaders? Should the group just decide overall for everyone? Other thoughts? (Please try to keep it civil.)

150 comments Add your comment

Scout Dad Will

January 29th, 2013
2:16 am

NO. Homosexual orientation is incompatible with Scouting. Sending your teenage son off to spend a week in the woods with a gay Scoutleader? No way.

A

January 29th, 2013
6:20 am

The ban on gays is one of the reasons my child will never be a scout. It’s discrimination pure and simple, and for all your close-minded people who think a gay scout leader is only in it to molest kids, I’d argue that most child abusers identify as straight. It has nothing to do with being gay or not. I would welcome gay scout leaders and don’t forget gay scouts.

gtmom

January 29th, 2013
6:51 am

Peodophile does not equal Gay! I think they are being smart. First off, Boy Scouts has lost tremendous amount of funding in the past couple years: big corporations and big charities including United Way because of their current ban. Even losing some church support. This is a smart approach. Let individual chapters decide. If you don’t want your kid around a gay leader, put them in a different chapter. It is simple as that. Also, the past stance did not protect your sons. Look at all the bad light that the Boy Scouts have been in the past year or so with covering up MARRIED Church members molestation of these boys. As a scout mother, I will be happy to see an end to this ban!

justmy2cents

January 29th, 2013
6:53 am

With all the rapes/abuse that have been covered up & swept under the rug in the Boy Scouts by so called straight men, I don’t think this is the bigger issue at hand! They kicked out a gay troop leader (female) from scouting the other year. She likes women, pretty sure your little boys are safe. And since when is it that being gay automatically makes you a pedophile??!?!

A

January 29th, 2013
7:13 am

And what about scouts who are gay or who are discovering they are gay as they are growing up. Hopefully with a reversal of this ban, those boys will still feel included and not discriminated against due to their sexual orientation. I think we as a society are finally moving forward on the topic of gay rights, which is a very good thing.

usually lurking

January 29th, 2013
7:14 am

Yes! Absolutely leave the decision up to the chartered unit. I thought it might take another generation for the BSA to make this change and am so happy about the prospect of it happening soon.

A Realist

January 29th, 2013
7:41 am

Gays have been in scouts for years. As evidenced by the accounts of young scouts being molested going back as far as the 60s. This was recently profiled by the AJC. Do you really want an admittedly gay scoutleader taking your little boy into the woods for the weekend? Political correctness run amok.

(the other) Rodney

January 29th, 2013
7:46 am

Just my opinion, and it’s pretty controversial but … I would think that out and proud gay men are far less likely to molest anyone than closeted “straight” men. When you’re out, you don’t have to deny your feelings and your, um, contact with others. When you’re closeted, you have spent all this time denying your true self and it overwhelms you and you turn to the easiest avenue (in this case, children).

I’m convinced this is why there was/is such a high percentage of priests and clergy who molest – they’ve spent so much time denying their true selves that, like anything, when you hold something in for so long it just takes over you and you lose control. Sexual desire is a very powerful driving force. And since the nearest, easiest thing for priests/clergy are the boys who work in the church … well. It just seems to make sense to me, with the Boy Scout issue too.

working mom

January 29th, 2013
7:58 am

Puh-lease. Gay does not equal pedophile any more than straight equals rapist. Please educate yourself rather than spew your hatred. Thankfully people seem to finally be moving in the right direction as far as LGBT issues.

Mayhem

January 29th, 2013
8:04 am

I’ve boycotted the boy scouts for years.

I will NOT buy their popcorn anymore. It is discrimination, pure and simple. Any organization that does not allow anyone to join is discrimate.

Gays are just like you and me, except they love the same sex. So what? They get dressed the same way I do, eat the same foods I do, and shop at the same stores. I have NUMEROUS gay friends, and I wouldn’t trade them for a thing!!! My best friend married a man who turned out to be gay, they had two kids before he realized and left. Now, they are the best of friends, and they have two beautiful children who are in their 20’s. I’ve known this man since we were 19 years old. He is my “brother” and I love him dearly.

I work with two lesbians. But they don’t throw their sexuality around. We all know they are gay, and we love them just the same.

This country has gone down

January 29th, 2013
8:07 am

Contrary to what some would say, a lot of people are tired of having the gay agenda shoved down their throats.

Mayhem

January 29th, 2013
8:14 am

One of my new favorite shows on tv is The New Normal. About a gay couple in the process of getting a baby via surrogate…..very cute show….I watched 3 episodes Saturday…..

homeschooler

January 29th, 2013
8:15 am

@ A realist. It has been brought to my attention by an African American friend that many troops in her area are lead by moms due to the lack of available fathers. (an issue for another day). Still, by your logic, those women should not be trusted to take boys into the woods for the weekend. Gay men like grown men. Just as straight women like grown men. They are not any more inclined to like little boys than a straight man or woman would be.
Now, there are some areas that I would be concerned. If I had a 15 yr old boy scout who I suspected might be gay or who I knew was gay I would not send him into the woods with a gay leader. Especially if that leader was young and/or single. At some point when you have a gay child you need to think about these things. Having a gay nephew I can tell you it’s very difficult to navigate these areas. Sleep overs are tricky. Once my nephew was 16 it made a lot more sense for him to have girls spend the night than boys but, as a parent, how do you allow that? The same would be true of homosexual boys in the Boy Scouts. If there are two or more gay boys in a troop (and how do you really know how many there are) you suddenly have to be concerned about them interacting sexually. If my son was gay and others in his troop were gay I would be concerned about them sleeping in the same tent. I think the key is to keep lines of communication open. People need to keep an open mind on both sides. My nephew got kicked out of a Christian School and a Christian camp. My sister-n-law didn’t complain or fight. She believed, as do I, that it was within the rights of that organization, school etc.. to have restrictions and she found other places for him to go. He actually spent two summers at a gay Christian camp.
I agree with those who say that individual troops should be able to decide but I’m not sure that is feasible. If the Boy Scouts choose, as an organization, to allow them, It seems a parent would have an easy fight on his/her hands to force an individual troop to do so.
Maybe there should just be all gay troops. Then the sleeping issues could be easily dealt with…closer supervision etc.. Just a thought.

A Realist

January 29th, 2013
8:17 am

@ This Country has gone down…….hey, haven’t you heard? It’s now trendy to be gay and have gay friends. Do you not watch Glee?…wake-up:)

jarvis

January 29th, 2013
8:25 am

I could two schlitz whether the Boy Scouts allow gays or not.
I don’t buy their popcorn because it’s overpriced.

MomsRule

January 29th, 2013
8:33 am

Homeschooler, I agree with everything you posted. Well stated.

A

January 29th, 2013
8:53 am

Agree with @the other Rodney that an out gay man is less likely to molest anyone than a closeted one who is living a lie as a straight man who’s probably married with kids. Also agree with @Mayhem about boycotting scouts. I’ve done the same and when friends with scouts ask to buy the nasty popcorn, I don’t get into the politics but just politely decline. My son has a number of friends into scouting, but he has never asked on his own if he can join. If he ever did, I would explain that their discrimination policy towards gays is the reason why he can’t. I have gay friends and we are teaching our child that gay is as “normal” as straight. We also stopped going to Chick Fil-A over their executive’s statements about gay marriage.

southpaw

January 29th, 2013
8:54 am

Just let me know which troops have gay leaders, so I can find another troop for my son.

RJ

January 29th, 2013
8:59 am

They can do whatever they choose. If this is a Christian organization and they are against homosexuality, I have no problem with it. We are talking about volunteers, not employees. Homosexuality will always be a sore spot with Christian organizations. Just as we have many denominations of Christianity, we will have many differing opinions.

Loyalscout

January 29th, 2013
9:02 am

BSA is a private organization that has every right to exclude whomever they want to exclude. If you do not agree with their stance then don’t support them. If you want a gay scout organization then go and start one. I would not try and force it to change to fit my ideology.
Why is it that when someone or some organization does not agree with the liberal agenda, they need to be forced to agree? It seems that we are no longer are free to have an opinion in this country. If the BSA does not take government money then they should be able to have their own opinion.
We are headed for a fascist society led by the progressive left. One in which history is changed to suit their needs and free thinking is against the common good of society.

Techmom

January 29th, 2013
9:03 am

I am a mom of an-almost Eagle Scout (1 more week, yes I am excited & proud!) and a long-time leader with my son’s Troop. I was very disappointed when the BSA announced they would not reconsider their discriminatory policy last year. How can we be asked and ask boys to live up to the Scout Oath and Law while simultaneously being ok with condemning someone? I am happy there has been pressure to reconsider this policy.

Are there gay Scouts & leaders serving today? Absolutely. Do I expect them to all come out and start discussing their sexual orientation at the next meeting? No way! I simply believe there is no room for sex or sexual discussions in Scouts. At no time during a meeting or outing is it appropriate to talk about ones sexual orientation. I don’t expect a gay teacher to discuss his/her orientation with students in a classroom nor do I expect a Scout leader to do the same. It should not be an issue.

I still expect the BSA to continue background checks and maintain strict youth protection policies (which requires 2 adults present at all times among other things) but that starts with the parents. Scouts is a volunteer organization. You want to protect your kid? Get involved. Don’t just drop him off and leave. Help with activities and get to know the other leaders. It is sad and disturbing that cases of abuse have occurred but I do think the BSA has developed a very good protection policy, one good enough that other volunteer-based organizations are using as their basis even.

@Jarvis – I’m with you on the overpriced popcorn. Our troop stopped selling it this year and did a different fundraiser instead.

Roni

January 29th, 2013
9:04 am

I’m excited about the prospect of this change. I have a 2 year old son and have already thought about how to handle the matter if he wants to be a Boy Scout one day. Discrimination against gays (or anyone) is incompatible with our family’s religion and philosophy, but how do you explain that to a young child who just wants to join the group their friends are in? I would not want to associate with a bigoted organization, and now hopefully I won’t have to.

Proud Eagle Scout

January 29th, 2013
9:20 am

And not afraid of gays………….I wish all the Christians would annex themselves to upper Michigan and go away. Or Henry County.

Proud Eagle Scout

January 29th, 2013
9:23 am

Actually, I want the gays to teach the Henry County Baptists how to drive on I-75.

Makes coming back from Florida vacation a real terror having to watch you sloths eat, drive, reproduce, etc.

usually lurking

January 29th, 2013
9:25 am

@Techmom – well said, and congrats on your son’s achievement!

Kat

January 29th, 2013
9:26 am

Gay people do not “equal” pedophiles. If you want your kid to be a scout, start a troop yourself. Then, you’ll know what you are getting. Scouting has dropped off, which is why they need to allow everyone to join.

jarvis

January 29th, 2013
9:29 am

Facists are not left leaning nor right leaning. People just like to say Facist I think.

homeschooler

January 29th, 2013
9:30 am

@ Loyalscout….I’m pretty sure they do take government money. Is it not a federally subsidized program? I thought it was.

Techmom

January 29th, 2013
9:33 am

@RJ – Scouts is actually not a Christian organization. Scouts is founded on a principle of “Duty to God” but Scouts operates in all religions. In the US, Scouts tend to be chartered through churches and the religious tone or direction is typically set by the chartering organization so yes, many troops open and close with prayers to Jesus but that’s not a BSA policy.

BTW, I am a Christian and a youth leader at our church as well but I don’t think Christians have an excuse for supporting this discriminatory policy. I think a lot of people are throwing out Biblical references out of fear and not based on what the Bible actually says. Matthew 22:37-38 says “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” If we used this scripture for the basis of our lives, there is no room for accepting discriminatory policies.

@Proud Eagle Scout – not every one in Henry County is Baptist, an idiot driver or a supporter of this policy (yes, yes, I’m shaking my head because I am neighbors with some of them though!) The idiot drivers are typically not Henry Countians, they’re the idiots driving back from Florida vacations who live north of here. Check out all the Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, etc. tags next time you’re sitting in the mess and remember that the WORST traffic we have is on the weekends when all those travelers are headed home and can’t figure out which lane to get it to either drive north straight through town or get on 675/285. THAT is the problem and the rest of us avoid getting on the interstate on the weekends. The weekday traffic is a result of our county approving lots and lots of cheap houses to be built and yet not attracting any decent-paying companies to actually bring jobs to where the people live so everyone has to commute into town.

jarvis

January 29th, 2013
9:38 am

Homeschooler, they don’t get any federal funding.

Techmom

January 29th, 2013
9:45 am

@homeschooler – BSA does not directly receive any federal dollars. Congress has passed laws allowing the BSA access to meet in public facilities but they receive no direct funding. The BSA used to hold the National Scout Jamboree at Fort AP Hill and therefore utilized military resources once every 4 years but that has stopped and BSA now has its own property on which to hold the Jamboree (with this year being the inaugural year at the new site).

BSA is a non-profit organization however so in that sense, they receive a tax benefit but no actual dollars.

Proud Eagle Scout

January 29th, 2013
9:47 am

Nope, all peeps in Henry County struggle….”Henry Countians, lol”

And I’ve had to travel a lot in my last job through Henry County on 10:30 on a Tuesday…mirror image of Sunday at 3 PM. And yes, the dam Yankees are, well………yeah.

But serious kudos to you for pointing out parents need to get involved. You are spot on……

Proud Eagle Scout

January 29th, 2013
9:47 am

alan

January 29th, 2013
10:00 am

Lots of great LGBT folks involved as parents and troop leaders. If they’re good people, let ‘em be involved.

DB

January 29th, 2013
10:03 am

As the mother of an Eagle Scout (with several Palms!) I am of two minds on this. I think it’s interesting that the Catholic Church can be supported for maintaining its doctrine of no contraception and refusing to take part in socialized medicine because of being forced to provide something that is fundamentally against their most basic precepts, and yet Boy Scouts is condemned for the taking a similar moral stand.

I think a policy of allowing sponsoring organizations to decide is an excellent compromise. I would hate to see the Boy Scout program be unable to provide its very worthwhile programming because of financial constraints. Also, people need to realize that Boy Scouts aren’t just Christian. Yes, many churches sponsor Boy Scout troops. But at the same time, other religious organizations sponsor troops, also — there are Jewish troops, Islamic troops, etc., etc., all whom embrace the Boy Scout’s program of providing the same foundation for personal growth, responsibility and discovery that Boy Scouts has provided for millions and millions of young men over the last 100 years.

Some of the hysteria on gays sorta reminds me, in a historical perspective, of the similar hysteria surrounding whether or not women should be allowed to vote. So much of the opposition was couched in religious terms of a woman’s proper, subjugated place — we find it quaint, now. I wonder if 100 years from now, we will find this discussion of whether gays should be allowed to fully participate in life as God made them to be equally quaint.

K

January 29th, 2013
10:07 am

I’m with homeschooler! I have a 26 yr. old AND a 5 yr. old. I would not allow for so many reasons. There has to be limits to a degree. Leave the sexual preference values to the parents at their own home. That opens t

DB

January 29th, 2013
10:11 am

@Homeschooler. BSA is NOT supported financially by the government. They are CHARTERED by the U.S. government. Per Wiki: ” The federal incorporation was originally construed primarily as an honor, however it does grant the chartered organization some special privileges and rights, including freedom from antitrust and monopoly regulation, and complete control over the organization’s symbols and insignia. As example, outside of the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, no other youth organizations may use the term “scouts” or “scouting” in their name. The special recognition neither implies nor accords Congress any special control over the BSA, which remains free to function independently.”

As such, one of BSA’s responsibilities is providing an annual report to Congress on their activities, which is largely ceremonial. However, Congress does not oversee BSA or any other chartered organizations operations, and does not provide funding.

jarvis

January 29th, 2013
10:20 am

I’m a firm believer in as much as possible being decided on a local level. It’s very hard to dictate policy all of the country and service the needs and beliefs of different communities.

Centralized doctrine is bad policy is most cases in my opinion.

K

January 29th, 2013
10:21 am

I’m with homeschooler! I have a 26 yr. old AND a 5 yr. old. I would not allow for so many reasons. There has to be limits to a degree. Leave the sexual preference values to the parents at their own home. That opens the door for others to put more peer pressure on others “to be or not to be?” Whether it be physical interaction or “lockeroom talk”. Scouts begin at a very young age. I believe there comes to a point when things should just be left as it is. The technology today has allowed us to uncover the wrongs of so many people, thank god. These violations have been going on for centuries but were brushed aside, ignored, others may have disbelieved the victims, etc. People that commit those violations have no limits to a sexual preference. They just do them regardless of gay or straight. I believe that this just opens the door for so many more violators regardless of them being closeted OR not. It might be a different story if the Scouts just got rid of all overnighters all together.

homeschooler

January 29th, 2013
10:39 am

My post disappeared. Thanks Jarvis, Techmom and DB for that info. I totally thought the BSA got some federal money. It seems like every other organization does. :-)

TOTALLY agree with Jarvis about things being decided on a local level. That’s my constant complaint about education. To many decisions being made at too distant a level. Everything can not be “one size fits all”.

Sunny

January 29th, 2013
10:56 am

The main reason people are protesting the gay world is that it’s not natural. Look at nature, people. You know it’s not natural when they need to find a surrogate or females fight over who gets to carry the baby. Oh, and no, gays shouldn’t be allowed into the scouts. Kids under a certain age don’t understand sexuality yet and should be protected.

Voter

January 29th, 2013
11:00 am

No, allowing gays to be a leader for the Boy Scouts is wrong.

Voice of Reason

January 29th, 2013
11:08 am

I’m completely ok with this because if the outed gay individual also happens to be a pedophile I imagine they would think twice before taking on the role of a leader of young children because of the increased level of scrutiny that will naturally be placed upon them. Think about it, that person wouldn’t be able to breath without someone else taking notice of it. They will be under a microscope.

It’s the pedophiles that are not out of the closet that you STILL have to worry about.

Bobo

January 29th, 2013
11:17 am

ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY NO! Why don’t you just open up membership for scout leaders to Nambla members? We are truly in the death-spiral of a sick society gone insane when we won’t even protect our children anymore. I don’t even want to hear the justification from someone who would somehow defend this position.

Chuck

January 29th, 2013
11:34 am

What a sick country we live in evidenced by this organization and several of the comments presented here. If this “private organization” expects to survive and obtain funding from governmental agencies, corporations, and free thinking individuals, they need to evolve faster than they have been. Proposing a “separate but equal” policy is not only not a joke, it’s insulting and shows just how much they need to change. And then there is still no mention of accepting Atheists. As for the bible thumpers and others out there, I am sorry for your continued losses, but you better get used to it, because there is no stopping inclusion and equality. It’s the American way. Take it or leave it

Loyalscout

January 29th, 2013
11:35 am

Jarvis, here is the definition of fascism: a political philosophy, movement, or regime (as that of the Fascisti) that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition.
When a private organization is forced to adopt the views for the “good of society” or be persecuted for not changing their view, it starts to resemble the above definition.

Loyalscout

January 29th, 2013
11:43 am

Chuck, I am not sure what America you are referring to. Listen to the hate in your comments. Your opinion is the only one that matters to you. You are unable to listen to any other opinions but your own. Does it even occur to you that other people might disagree with you, which should be perfectly fine. Your belief that everyone should change their beliefs to match yours is not the American way.

Kat

January 29th, 2013
11:54 am

When I went to church camp, our house’s “counselor” insisted that the entire group of us dress and undress in the main area of the house, rather than other, more private places. If you didn’t do it, she would look in on you in the bathroom. And, she was “straight.” (sarcasm)

Jake-SPJTWB

January 29th, 2013
11:55 am

No.. I disagree, not because a gay scoutleader is more apt to commit a crime, but lets be objective. At some point, the gay scoutleader suffered through a sexual orientation crisis, and ultimately discovered his gayness. Is it fair to the children to possibly be placed in the care of someone who may promote that lifestyle….here’s my theory, young men experience a brief period of nervousness and shame when they begin to recognize attraction to the opposite sex, you know the, “I don’t like that stupid girl Phase”…Is fair to the child to have that Gay leader say, “its okay if you like boys, you can be with boys” when the child is that impressionable.

This a Nature vs. Nuture issue, I do not believe its natural to be gay, but over time, I have thought maybe it could be, doesn’t matter for me; but there is certainly a risk of these impressionable children being nurtured toward homosexuality.

ATL Born and Raised

January 29th, 2013
11:56 am

@Sunny Your comment is overwhelmingly ignorant. Homosexual behavior is observed in many different species. And many heterosexual couples must resort to “unnatural” methods of conception such as IVF and surrogacy. What does any of that have to do with Scouts anyway? So many hateful, ignorant comments here. Though I am happy to see so many more who are accepting. Truly a sign of changing times.