Membership Standards Listening Phase

We are in the listening phase of our Membership Standards Study Initiative where we are giving everyone in the Scouting family an opportunity to share what they think and feel about this issue. We are surveying or interviewing seven groups and will compile the results into a summary report to be given to our volunteer National Officers in April. Is there more we should be doing to listen? Are there people in the Scouting family that we have left out? Please use the comments section below to share your thoughts. See you next month!

102 thoughts on “Membership Standards Listening Phase

    • Dear Mr. Brock,

      I wrote the letter below and sent it to the national office via the BSA’s suggested communication channels prior to the most recent announcement by the National Organization regarding membership standards. I did not receive a response of any sort which indicates you were not listening to me or many others. I am, to say the least, deeply saddened and disappointed in the BSA’s suggested resolution which is glaring evidence of complete incompetence on your part to lead the national organization. You had the opportunity to move the organization to adopt a behavior based standard for youth and volunteers. Instead you have further imbedded the organization as taking a moral view on a polarizing issue which has set the organization up to be irrelevant and forever has damaged the BSA brand. The idea that the end result of this public relations debacle is that a person who is gay is welcome to be a member of the BSA as a youth but when he turns 18 and wants to serve his troop as a registered volunteer leader he is no longer welcome is beyond ridiculous. That youth would likely be an Eagle Scout and shining example for other Scouts. Under your resolution, the day he becomes 18 and wants to be a volunteer leader he is no longer someone to be looked up to and is no longer welcome to serve in an official capacity. Oh but he could be a gay youth Venture Scout for a few more years after he turns 18 and then be ostracized. I hope and pray that you realize what damage you are about to do and stop this resolution from becoming official and present the National Board with a real long term solution. My original letter follows. Please reconsider and lead.

      Dear Mr. Brock –
      I’m writing to implore you and the national executive board of directors of the Boy Scouts of America to follow through on making the proposed change to the membership standards which would remove the national restrictions as it relates to gay leaders and empower local units and chartered partners to select their leadership. In order to have a sustainable long term future and remain relevant in America the highest level of management at the BSA must lead and make this change in policy. Failure to adopt this change in policy will forever damage the brand of the BSA, divide the organization, ruin any change of continuing Scouting as a movement, and negate any chance this organization has at achieving a sustainable future in its second century. I’m an Eagle Scout and I was a professional employee of the BSA until a few weeks ago. I didn’t resign over the issue of membership standards but I’m able to voice my opinions and lead on this issue rather than fear the consequences of expressing my opinions as many of my colleagues do.

      I have not discussed my opinions with our Scout Executive or with any members of board of directors of the Northern Star Council. Thus any reactions my opinion may garner should be directed at me and not toward the council I have served. As an individual who has personally benefited greatly from Scouting as a youth and who has worked extremely hard to move this organization forward as an employee I want nothing more than to see this organization have long term success serving children and achieve its mission of building character and creating the leaders of tomorrow. Thus, I am sincere in my offering of suggestions as implore you, to lead the BSA out of the polarizing debate it is engaged in and focus the organization on serving kids in the Scouting program.

      Two constants have remained in place during the past 11 years that I was employed as a professional Boy Scout; across the nation the membership of the BSA has consistently and significantly declined and the issue of openly gay people not being allowed to serve as volunteer leaders has been polarizing and handicapping. As an employee I found that our greatest challenge in serving our community was not fellow competition, changing demographics, a changing culture of youth related to time spent outdoors, economic challenges, or a changing family structure. The greatest challenge we faced was our own organization handicapping our ability to maintain and build a positive image in our community. A positive image leads to serving more children, raising more money, and recruiting more volunteers. We have limitless potential with the talented pool of people living in this community combined with the strength of the Scouting program but we need to be led out of this no win situation.

      I understand that in order to maintain status as a private organization and win a supreme court case that was rooted in the question of gay people having a right to serve as volunteer leaders, the BSA had to prove that it had policies in place that stated gay people were not allowed to serve as volunteer leaders. In stating that case and winning the BSA was able to maintain status as a private organization but also positioned itself as taking a moral stance on banning gay people from serving as volunteer leaders. Rather than extracting the BSA from this debate since the supreme court decision of 2000 the national organization has further embedded itself in this debate by issuing recent public communications that have positioned itself as having an opinion on the morality of gay leaders in Scouting. This positioning has galvanized a base of supporters who are averse to changing the membership policy, hindered the organization’s ability to be popular with the public, damaged the organization’s brand, and has triggered increased membership losses as well as loss of community support.

      The decision the Scouting organization faces in May will dictate whether Scouting as a national movement and organization can be preserved. If the vote is to maintain a ban on gay leaders choosing such a position on the national stage will forever damage the organization and destroy its ability to operate on a national level. In addition to significant membership and funding loses there will be a generation of people turned off to ever considering supporting the BSA. This great responsibility to lead the organization through a difficult time is precisely why there is a Chief Scout Executive and National board of directors.

      I understand that the BSA is a national organization and thus serves a diverse population who possess a broad range of opinions, perspectives, and assumptions. Leaders of a national organization therefore need to listen to a broad constituent base which includes chartering partners consisting of the LDS church and other faith based organizations that believe being gay is immoral, powerful members of business community, influential public figures, key donors, Scouting parents, Scouting alumni, and other stakeholders. There have always been loud voices challenging leaders to maintain policies that discriminate against others. I believe those voices were the loudest when the national organization proposed changing their policy and then subsequently delayed taking action and pushed the decision making power to a lower level as to avoid conflict and responsibility. The written opinions I’ve seen from volunteers and the public as an employee have been overwhelmingly negative and in opposition to changing the BSA policy but the public sentiment in this part of the county is overwhelming that the BSA should change its policy and allow gay people to serve as leaders. People who are in favor of the policy change are waiting for leadership. They are not going to express their opinion until the new policy has been adopted. There will be pain from members leaving the organization if the policy change is made but there will also be an outpouring of support if the BSA manages their message, and seizes a new opportunity to move forward. If there is a “no” vote the public will vote by not enrolling their kids in Scouting, not donating to Scouting, not volunteering for Scouting, and the organization will not meet its mission. The BSA will continue to lose talented employees who fear for the future of the organization and will thus further spiral eventually into non-existence.

      The negative consequences that result from taking a position on national divisive issues is the reason why I believe the national leadership of the BSA has consciously chosen to not take a position on other national controversial political topics such as abortion, capital punishment, prayer in public schools, global climate change, the theory of evolution, or endorsing a political candidates or party. The leadership of the BSA knows these are no-win positions and by taking sides on these issues the BSA would further drive away prospective Scouts and volunteers and would divide current members of our community who support the BSA.

      I believe there is a segment of the BSA’s membership, who want this policy to remain in effect, who are making assumptions about gay people regarding youth protection. The assumption people made generations ago was that gay people were more likely to abuse children than heterosexual people. The scientific community, along with professionals in psychology and criminal justice has provided detailed factual information stating that there is no link between being gay and being a child abuser. There is in fact no greater likelihood of a gay person abusing a child than a heterosexual person. In defense of the current membership policy standards the BSA has pointed to surveys conducted with existing members saying more than 60% of parents would prefer to have their kids have leaders who are heterosexual rather than gay. This question is random and does not provide evidence or a sound argument as to why gay leaders should not be allowed to serve as volunteers. For all we know this preference could be based in false assumptions, ignorance, or bigotry. The BSA should ask a behavior based standard question of parents; Do you believe volunteer leaders in Scouting should act as role models and behave appropriately with your children? I assume the response would be 99% or more who would say yes.

      Now that the BSA has begun discussions about changing its policy to allow charter partners and parents involved in those units select their leaders the BSA could and should replace the existing policy with a behavior based standard for selecting volunteer leaders. The new BSA message should be that the BSA takes the approach of a behavior based standard and all volunteer leaders within the BSA are expected to behave as role models. The volunteer’s behavior should meet the expectations of the parents and charter partners. The national BSA should empower those parents and charter partners to select the very best role models for their youth.

      This organization exists to serve children. The BSA is supposed to be teaching leadership, life skills, outdoor ethics, citizenship, physical and mental fitness. The BSA’s choice to remain embedded in this issue is preventing kids from receiving the Scouting program, it’s is hurting the brand, it’s making the organization irrelevant, it’s causing valuable employees to leave the organization, it’s driving talented volunteers away from serving and it’s alienating a segment of our population. The existing policy is an insult to the many men and women volunteers, Eagle Scouts, camp staff members, and professional staff who are gay.

      Please do what is difficult now in order to save the organization and serve the children of the future. My own children need this program, countless other children need the Scouting program. The organization and the country need leadership from the BSA at the highest level. Please don’t be afraid of that responsibility but embrace the opportunity to lead the organization to a brighter future. The stakes could not be higher and the failure to lead could not have a greater cost.


      Mark McCabe

      • Hi Mark,
        I agree with you BSA should take a stand but I don’t agree with the approach you seem to support. If I understand your position, BSA should be afraid to take a stance on a moral issue that is controversial and currently considered politically incorrect because it hurts funding and membership counts. That is not what we should be teaching our children and frankly that is not what the Scout Oath and Law would suggest. To sum it up, don’t do the hard thing because it is too hard. I do not really care if studies show homosexuals are no more likely to be pedophiles than hetrosexuals. Who cares. This is a moral issue. Young children should not be exposed to deviant behavior regardless of whether or not it is illegal in a society that is increasingly accepting of immoral behavior. Since we are dealing with youth BSA should continue to exercise extreme caution. There have been too many examples of study results produced by well meaning (but ultimately biased) academics that years later have been found to be wrong. BSA seems to have three choices: Fold and accept leaders who participate in immoral behavior allowing them to be role models for our children (Moses could have taken this route), stand tall and accept that in an increasingly agnostic and immoral society people will be criticize us for not being relevant, or take the cowardly approach and try to walk an impossible tightrope through the issue. The first two will almost certainly have a negative impact on membership. The third is the worst of both worlds since people will flee on both sides of the issue.
        The most painful part of this whole process right now is it is self inflicted.

      • Mr. Brock,

        See John McMullen’s response below to my post. This is evidence of exactly why I’m asking you to lead the organization out of this no-win debate. You should also read the recent posts on Facebook regarding the recent proposed membership resolution. By not instituting a behavior based standard versus further embedding the national organization into a polarizing social issue you are causing a great deal of damage to the organization. The people who are siding with the national organization are identifying the BSA as having taken a moral stance on what it means to be gay.

        Rather than sending a message that the BSA allows local communities to select the best possible leaders for their children who abide by behavior based standards the BSA message is making a blanket character assessment; gay people are of poor character and shouldn’t be allowed in Scouting. Seriously read the Facebook posts on the National BSA page. You are aligning the organization with people who are sending out ignorant and unfounded messages. Those are the people on your side right now. Is that the brand the BSA is looking to become and solidify?

        Your own research indicates that people 50 years and under don’t agree with the organization and think gay people should be allowed to serve as leaders in Scouting. So you are aligning a youth organization with the 50+ crowd? Not with the audience who are the ages of the Scouts, Cub Scout leaders, or even many Boy Scout leaders. How will the BSA grow and survive with this strategy?

        Again, I ask you to please strike the language pertaining to gay leaders in Scouting and adopt a behavior based standard and allow local communities to select their leadership. Making a simple edit to your own resolution would accomplish this. Millions of children and families are depending on you to make a leadership decision.

        Mark McCabe

  1. Wayne,

    Thanks for your leadership on this difficult issue. We will get through this as a stronger organization if we all work together and keep our focus on developing our youth. As I learned through dealing with the illness and passing of my father this year, the right thing to do is rarely the easiest thing to do.

    • Mr. McMullen says: “This is a moral issue. Young children should not be exposed to deviant behavior regardless of whether or not it is illegal in a society that is increasingly accepting of immoral behavior.”

      Please give us your definition of “exposure.” Is it (A) being taught about human sexuality in the context of the Scouting program, or (B) being around others who express human sexuality?
      I am sure that everybody agrees that scenario A is not the purview of the program, and any such examples would be soundly dealt with once known. But since being around people who engage in a behavior in the privacy of their own home does not actually teach anything about that behavior, we can only assume you are concerned with scenario B.

      By that rationale, in order for the BSA to take a stance regarding the morals of human sexuality, then the policy must be addressed evenly. If it will exclude all adult homosexuals, then it must also exclude all adulterers, all sexually active single males, and all those who seek to “recruit” celibate youth into a sexually-active lifestyle — homosexual OR heterosexual. Make no mistake, I have encountered all of these types of people in my Scouting career. For the sordid details, please see .

      BSA is chartered by all kinds of organizations: Christian churches, other faiths, schools, military brotherhood organizations such as VFW, the American Legion, and more. These organizations are filled with fantastic and flawed humans including leaders and followers, spouses and divorcees, teetotalers, alcoholics, addicts and, yes, gays.

      Interpreting sexual morality is the domain of religion, but even different denominations do not all define morality on this issue the same way. BSA’s concern should remain in support of the chartering organization and its specific policies on this issue. Let the chartering organization then come to grips with the issue itself.

      And for those of you who pay attention to the teachings of Jesus, it was He who said: “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone.”

      • BSA should exclude all adulterers. Morally straight isn’t only about homo vs hetro sexual behavior. Several people have already pointed that out in these exchanges. It is about living morally. Can you name a single main stream religion, even a fringe religion, that holds adulterers up as a model for moral behavior ? BSA doesn’t have the luxury of leaving these policy decisions up to sponsoring organizations. BSA is regularly and historically held accountable for the decisions made by sponsoring organizations. Lawsuits include BSA because the national organization has an oversight responsibility. In Matthew Jesus also said shake the dust from your feet.

      • Mr. McMullen thank you for being consistent in your views. Please insist on the same language in the membership policy and let us know your progress in getting the BSA Executive Council to exact such perfection out of all volunteers.

      • I am not asking for perfection but I would expect BSA to exclude an openly and avowed adulterer just as I currently expect BSA to exclude an openly and avowed homosexual. I don’t believe children should be exposed to either behavior. If BSA’s executive council believes otherwise then perhaps we need to replace the executive council or allow BSA to the way of the YMCA after the Village People sang their song.

      • P.S. Mr. McMullen, in your case to the Executive Council for a stricter policy with regards to known adulterers, please be certain to cite examples of notable Scouts and the moral turpitude they display in their wanton acts of adultery. Here are some specific examples to help you get started:

        * Neil Armstrong, Eagle Scout and first man to walk on the moon. Known adulterer, ultimately divorced 1994.

        * President Gerald Ford, Eagle Scout and 38th President of the United States, married to a divorcee, alcoholic, and drug addict.

        * Steven Spielberg K.B.E., Eagle Scout and director of films such as Saving Private Ryan, Lincoln and Schindler’s List. Adulterer and divorcee.

        * W.D. Boyce, founder of the Boy Scouts of America, twice divorced, thrice married, leaving his second wife with an infant daughter he didn’t even meet until she was 8.

        What reprehensible examples we have been following in our scouting career.

        “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?”
        –Matthew 7:3

      • You examples are all very poignant though I am not sure why Gerald Ford made your list. When we hold these gentlemen up as examples, if we acknowledge their faults, we do not identify their faults as admirable or even acceptable behavior as you suggest we should do with homosexuality.

      • I don’t think anyone’s “promoting” homosexuality, just eliminating it as an excuse to toss good people out of Scouting.

      • Let’s be realistic. The policy is in place because a homosexual took the national stage and tied his lifestyle to the scouts. This is about the promotion of a lifestyle no traditional family wishes on their children. A lifestyle identified as immoral in the primary text of at least three of the world’s major religions. I know there is a movement to remove the reference but God is first in the scout oath for a reason.

  2. Wayne,

    If the membership policy stays the same concerning gays, how long will it be before the board has to vote on it again? This back and forth with the possibility of changing the membership policy is making Scouting hard to sell and even more difficult to raise funds. If the membership policy stays the same, PLEASE do not revisit it for another 100 years. Thanks!

  3. Another group worth understanding how they feel about these issues would be young mothers and fathers whose children will be eligible for the program in the next few years. They would represent the potential for new growth.

    • Gillian:

      We are conducting a random sample survey among parents with children age 0 to 18, so we will hear from young parents whose children will be eligible for Scouting in the future. Thanks for your question!

      Pat Wellen, Director of Research & Program Innovation

  4. In this rapidly changing world, this is an issue that needs to be addressed. It also needs to be handled humanly and compasionately in order to present a united front with the youth. I think the adults have more issue with it than the boys themselves. Are we surveying them to see the reaction?

    • Anne:

      We are gaining input from youth through a random sample survey. This survey is being conducted right now by Harris Interactive through their youth poll. We will have the opinions of Scouts and non-Scouts. Thanks for your question!

      Pat Wellen, Director of Research & Program Innovation

  5. Wayne – it would be nice to get this on the record: was Voice of the Scout sent to every registered member, or was the survey link only sent to a sample of our membership? Because we continue to hear from volunteers that they have not received the link.

    • Charles:

      Voice of the Scout was sent to every registered member with an active registration and an email address in ScoutNet as of February 27, 2013. If they did not recieve the survey, we either did not have their email address, or the email address that is in ScoutNet was incorrect.

      If they did not get a survey and they have a current membership, they can register their membership ID at the following URL. Once their membership number is verified they will recieve an email link to the survey:

      Also, before they register have them look in their spam or junk mailbox as we have some reports that email filters have put it in that mailbox.

      Thanks for your question.

      Pat Wellen, Director of Research & Program Innovation

  6. I was at a Dr appointment yesterday.My Dr has a son in a Troop in LAkeland,Florida.He told me that the minute the BSA changes it’s policy he will pull his son out of Scouting.He had just spent a weekend camping with his Troop and his son.

  7. Wayne,

    We appreciate you and your professional leadership team for the well thought out plan and the help in implementing that plan on a local level. Everyone on your team has been very supportive and timely in their response when questions arise. They are a direct reflection of you and your leadership style!

  8. Wayne – you, Wayne and Tico are to be commended for the way you are handling this extremely controversial issue. You’re doing everything possible to keep this fair to all parties involved. Whichever way this goes, there will be some very unhappy people. The Boy Scouts of America will survive. It’s too important of an organization not to. God bless you, Wayne and Tico as you continue to lead us through this very difficult time. We will hopefully be past this soon and back to the reason we’re here – serving the youth of America.

    • Remember what happened in Canada? More than 50% drop in membership. Forced to sell camps and properties. It does matter which way this goes. BSA will not survive a change in policy.

      • Since 1999, the Boy Scouts of AMERICA has had a 47% decline in traditional membership–and that’s with our current policy. No difference that what happened in Canada during the same time period.

  9. Wayne,
    Thanks for the update. Our council Scout Exec has done a great job keeping us up to speed also. Thank you for the opportunity that we had this week to respond. I appreciate you listening to the full-time staff of this issue.
    If you are interested, I would be willing to share an experience we had here in our council over the last week that demonstrates the strong support we have in our community to maintaining the current membership policy. Good people, who are strong, traditional supporters are stepping up both vocally and financially in a way I haven’t seen for a while.
    It gives me hope that maintaining the current policy will win us more friends than enemies.

  10. As the cubmaster of our local pack, I and my 4 sons in Cubscouts are anxiously waiting to hear the final (?) decision in May. If the policy changes, they will be disappointed that they won’t have the opportunity to go for their Arrow of Light or Eagle. But they know we have to hold true to our Biblical values. Stand for something, or fall for anything.

  11. While it is vital to collect internal feedback regarding this issue, it is also important to collect external feedback. If the Boy Scouts of America as an institution wants to grow and prosper, it must be open to hear the voices of outside organizations and individuals. Can you share with me the efforts BSA has made to seek the opinion of the population of the country that Scouting does not serve? I receive questions and feedback regarding this concern and am not able to properly respond. Come May, if Scouting has only done an internal audit, it has missed an opportunity to engage America in our organization.

    • Sarah:

      We are conducting random sample surveys with parents and youth who are not in Scouting. This is the only way to gain a representative view of what people outside of Scouting believe. Findings from these surveys will be shared with the executive committee Wayne spoke of. Thanks for your question!

      Pat Wellen, Director of Research & Program Innovation

  12. Despite the fact that we are in the 21st Century there are families that I know personally that have dial-up internet or no computer at all. I think an effort should be made to reach out to some familes using good old fashioned “Snail Mail.”

    Aside from that I know a lot of volunteers, families, and units that will close shop if the membership policy changes in favor of homosexual membership/ “passing the buck” to the COs.

    Remember, we learn about bullying in Youth Protection. Having donors tell us that they won’t give us money if we don’t change our membership standards is a form of bullying.

  13. If the policy changes major funding donors from my council will pull their funding which pays for my salary. If that happens does the BSA have plans on relocating me due to the policy change?

  14. I wonder if it would be prudent and possible to survey the sponsor organizations for various troops. For example, the various churches and/or demoninational leadership which currently provide space for our troops to meet. It sounds as if you are doing anything and everything possible to reach an informed decision. Thank you for going the extra mile as we prepare for the historic results and accompanying actions of this very important vote.

    • Beth:

      Chartered organization representatives (COR’s) and Institutional Heads are a part of the Voice of the Scout research, so they are included in the surveys. Thanks for asking!

      Pat Wellen, Director of Research & Program Innovation

  15. I am going to a meeting being held by our local Council tonight. I am going to share this with them and feel I should share it here too. I will be approaching our Sponsoring Organization to make sure they are aware of the impending vote. If National takes the un-Brave approach and chooses to extend the choice to the local Council or the Sponsoring organizations, my recommendation will be they either need to be ready to issue a policy statement accepting gays in the pack and troop they sponsor or they need to have the letter ready to send in resigning as a sponsor. Their really is no affordable middle ground for a sponsoring organization. A decision to change the membership standard will effectively be a decision to admit homosexuals throughout the organization.

  16. Wayne and fellow professionals. Now is not the time to give into liberal attack groups. We are the one conservative organization for youth in America. If we change our policy on the American Heritage Girls will be the only non church group to still stand for the conservative values of America.
    Our Council has already lost youth, adults, units and funding due to the proposed change. I would certainly hate to see what would happen if we actually gave in to Liberal Attack Groups.
    Stand Strong BSA, thats what were famous for… Values, Character and Leadership.

  17. You speak of bullying and such. Do you think for a minute that threats of pulling sponsorships, scouts and such if the membership standards change is not bullying?

    What exactly is it we are trying to teach our young men and women? To be tolerant of others beliefs, or rather ostracize them and become an organization that espouses prejudice? What if homosexuality were a religion? How would you handle it then?

    I think by excluding gays and homosexuals,we are being extremely short-sighted, as well as denying our young adults the ability to take advantage of knowledge and/or learn skills that these people may have to offer in various fields or disciplines.

    If National is worried about membership and recruitment, I would think they would want to remain relevant. I think that by keeping the status quo, BSA may very well be relevant only in “rural middle America”, and lose whatever attraction it currently has in urban and many suburban areas.

    Also, I pose a question to those Christians among us, as I have heard many times before regarding various difficult social issues. “What would Jesus do?” I think you need to ask yourselves how would he have handled this issue?

    • I believe Jesus already showed us that in his words and actions. He teaches us to love thy neighbor. But love and tolerance are 2 different things. The Bible plainly refers to homosexuality as an abomination and sin. As Christians, followers of Christ, we are called to repent of our sins and seek forgiveness from God and those others we have sinned against. Then in the words of Jesus, “go and sin no more”. God is loving. God is forgiving. And God is gracious. But He is not tolerant of sin. He loves us all enough to send His son Jesus to take on our sin in exchange for His life. But that doesn’t free His followers to continue living in sin and defiance of His laws.

    • Hi Jeff,
      I am no expert. We do not know exactly what Jesus would have done. Given the biblical view of homosexuality as a sin, I have to believe Jesus would forgive the homosexuals and send them away telling them to repent and sin no more. That is what he did with the woman caught in the act of adultery. He certainly would not say go forth and fornicate… have a good time. Neither would he direct us to set sinners up as appropriate examples for children.

      • It is also a sin to have sexual relations outside of the bonds of marriage (heterosexual or otherwise) yet the BSA does not ban volunteers or Scouts who are sexual active with someone they are not married to. My church does not allow those who are committing such a sin to volunteer in its Scouting units. This reflects the choice of my church and the BSA honors that choice. If the measure passes and the charter partner still gets to make the choice, then really the implication is not as heavy duty as one might think. Non-religious charter partners are the ones I worry about.

  18. My son is an Eagle Scout, I have been involved in both Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts for the better part of the last 15 years. I have been a part-time BSA employee, working 30 hours per week in the Accounts Payable position for over five years. I was not included in the survey email, and was informed that was because I am not a full-time employee. I would like to take the survey, and believe that there are other part-time employees who would like to be included.

  19. This is a tough issue. Move slowly and make all the right moves. But I wonder what our Scout handbook says.”Respect everyone” And Woodbadge says “Embrace change” seems to me we know the answer. But what is good for the future of scouting? I don,t know, but I would talk to as many Scouter’s as you can and also non Scouter’s.

  20. I attended our meeting last night. The police presence was a bit over the top but I will say the meeting was cordial.

    Shortly after I became a Cubmaster I received a call from a woman who wanted to know what my pack’s policy was on homosexual’s. I told her we did not have a policy of own and we were obligated to follow national’s policy. I went on to tell her what my own view was (and still is). If you want to bring sexuality as an issue into scouts then I really do not want you or your child. I do not care what side of the issue you are on. I personally have asked a hetrosexual couple that was overtly affectionate to stop or leave. I also got to ask a drunk non-custodial parent to leave a meeting once. To me the issues were much the same. I do not want the youth I am responsible for exposed to either behavior.

    I wish I could see a path forward for BSA that would finesse sex issue completely out of the organization. The current proposal letting the sponsoring organizations pick their poison is impractical. I base that solely on the financial exposure to the sponsor. We know groups supporting this change will have no hesitation suing a sponsoring organization that chooses to exclude gays. I wonder how many sponsoring organizations will be sued be existing members if they allow homosexuals. Regardless of the direction BSA takes with the current language it will be seen and promoted as a victory by the winner and a travesty by the loser. The controversy will keep families away.

    Assuming we successfully move past this issue then I am concerned for the future of Scouting. Many of the current arguments I have heard supporting participation by homosexuals are based on the progress of American culture on this topic and an enlightened definition of discrimination. All of these arguments are easily modified by replacing homosexuality with atheism. Yes, I personally believe an atheist will also get a lot out of scouting. I also believe including atheists in the program will have an adverse affect on the youth in the program. If you think I am paranoid the atheists are already knocking on the door using the same justification as the homosexuals. Excluding them is discriminatory.

    With that in mind, Be Prepared for the future Scout Promise and Law. It should be a little easier to remember:

    The Future of the Promise:
    On my honor, I will do my best
    To obey the Scout Law;
    To help other people at all times;
    To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally aligned with the lowest common denominator in society (lest I be viewed as discriminatory or bigoted).

    The Future of the Law:
    A Scout is:
    •and Clean,

    • I followed your train of thought right up to the rewriting of the Oath and Law. I think that is at least flippant (but not funny) or at worst, a scare tactic. At no time, has National suggested to us members, that there is a proposed change to the Oath and Law, nor would we have to if we dropped the ban.

      • I wasn’t being flippant. The atheists are already knocking at the door. Their arguments are the same… discrimination, the culture has change, and Boy Scouts has something to offer all youth. In our increasingly sectarian society they will even have statistics on their side. Their lobby will claim we discriminate (since right now we do). At some point corporate donations will be down again and some corporations will tell the scouts it is because we discriminate. National will believe them. When we admit the atheists we will have to take God out of the Oath and may have to take Reverent out of the Law because of its religious connotation.

  21. A long time friend and former chairman of the Scoutreach Committee in Syracuse retired and moved to Georgia. Hi comments to me, “Maceo: John I am about to lose several of my units, if National BSA changes its policy in May. We’re in trouble. I am in the Bible Belt and the some of the sponsoring churches have notified us, if the policy changes, they will no longer be a chartering partner. It’s going to take its toll.” Scouting is and has been a ‘voluntary’ association and our leadership and membership standards have been accepted by those who choose to join. Christians generally view the homosexual lifestyle as immoral. They may embrace the homosexual but not the behavior. In some Islamic countries homosexuals can be put to death. The BSA does not teach about homosexuality but does teach tolerance and respect for the rights of others (including homosexuals). That should extend to the right of the BSA to maintain its membership standards.
    If we vote emotionally then we vote for change. (Poor Billy, been a Tiger, Cub, Scout and now is denied Eagle because he came out as gay). Is that tragic and difficult for all, yes, but maintaining a moral standard has never been easy. Ask the early Christians who went to their deaths because of their beliefs.
    The BSA has never wanted to be political or used to drive social change. Homosexual activists want to do just that. They want the BSA to redefine its century long understanding of what constitues Duty to God, Reverent, Morally Straight and Clean. They label the BSA as hate mongers, prejudiced, bigoted and intolerant, none of which is true. If anything, those labels belong on our attackers and detracters.
    It would be wrong to shift the decision on if a homosexual can be a member/leader to our chartered partners if we are unwilling to assume the burden of protecting them from legal or other attacks. The homosexual activists have already said that a half way measure is not acceptable and they have also included athiests so the measures that I have heard proposed will not stop the attacks against us. We either surrender all of our standards or we hold to all of them. I feel we have more to lose at this moment if we surrender. Others will disagree and I respect their right to that opinion and trust they respect mine. That’s one of the things we teach.

  22. I am torn with this issue. I know several people who were good Scouts or could be phenominal leaders that are now avowed homosexuals. One one hand, our organization has already fought and won this battle according to the US Supreme Court. The silent majority is being bullied by the LOUD minority. The estimated sector of America’s gay population is about 6% currently. Maybe that amount will drastically increase over the next decade, maybe it won’t. Our Scouts already got to school with gay kids or have relatives or neighbors that are homo/bisexual.BSA has a policy of nondescrimination, but discriminates against those this policy affects. That seems a bit hypocritical. Will the BSA be stronger or weaker if the standards change? We won’t know for sure. People have threatened to leave or defund the Scouting program because homosexuality is immoral in their opinion. Others have threatened the same because our beliefs are outdated. What will be gained by those driving the litigation and negative PR? How much wealth have they generated for themselves and organizations that ignore BSA’s rights? Why can’t those organizations create a similar program that is “open to everyone” that the BSA seems to ignore? As long as the BSA holds fast to their religous principle we will weather this storm. Many churches allow homosexuals to join their church under the “Hate the sin, love the sinner” mentality. The BSA was founded on traditional American values that made this country the strongest, most viable country on the planet. Unfortunately, our government has allowed singular issues to divide this great nation. Without uniformity and constant “in-fighting” we grow weak. Right now I am addressing this issue here instead of attempting to find/cultivate donors. This issue has become a significant distraction for all those whose lives are entrenched in Scouting. I feel we are in a lose-lose situation and perhaps my position, and retirement, are in jeopardy because of this. Nobody is forcing individuals to join the BSA (a PRIVATE organization) nor requiring they contribute financially. I do not envy the National Board for their role and responsibility regarding this hot topic. We, however, are not a “hate group” and should not be treated as such. If this standard is reversed will the National office reach out to those individuals who surrendered their Eagle to return it to them or issue apologies for discrediting them previously? This hornet’s nest will be stirred violently. I feel we as an organization are a battleship in neutral waters; with submarines on either side of us ready to launch warheads at us in late May, once the decision is made. Both sides have planned their assaults on the BSA at that time. I feel we will lose a higher amount of membership and money if we reverse the policy. We will ALWAYS have critics and enemies because the BSA is working towards the greater good. God Bless the BSA and those who control its future. May divine wisdom be bestowed upon them.

  23. We need to keep standing up for what’s right. If you’re not sure what that is, look to Hollywood–then do the opposite. We have a unique opportunity at this critical time: to remain a moral compass, “Keeper of America’s Values” (and be respected for it); or become the most recent casualty of political correctness to cave in…where is Courage and Honor in that?

  24. An interesting hypocrisy exists in this discussion on the moral and ethical standards within the scouting program: Some argue that changing the membership standards go against the scout law and promise but we have alcohol abuse, domestic violence, adulterers, people that lie, people that steal, and people that are poor examples of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, but they are all still scoutmasters, cub leaders, and scouting professionals. We all fall short so accepting members as the fallen people that we are should be the standard.

    The topic that is not addressed and is denied by the scouting organization is the moral and ethical violations that occur in our professionals. The failure rate of District Executives is well documented in the Scouting Leadership Development Center and yet Scout Executives and staff of the old wisdom still destroy lives every day in these young people. It is amazing how one day as a scout they care about them and as soon as they become an employee they are allowed to be destroyed by the “leadership” that is only focused on membership numbers and donations.

    This is not 1910-1960 when little was in competition with scouting, it is 2013 and the way of doing business needs to change. It is time we start addressing the real moral and ethical violations that occur in many councils and on many boards that are there more to serve the needs of the Scout Executive than to hold them accountable for higher internal standards for more effective business practices.

    To have a moral and ethical organization, the internal structure must have a culture of moral and ethical standards in the leadership throughout the organization, not just on the poster for the youth.

    Steven Magaro
    PhD student and former District Executive of the “neanderthal” Tidewater Council

  25. A few points on the belief that any standard change will not allow some to hold true to Biblical values. It is assumed they are also patriotic Americans. The Constitution, radically at the time of its proposing, mentioned religion specifically once. That was to state there would be no religious test to hold federal office. This was used as a arguement against the Constitution, as it would allow persons perceived as non-biblical in that time (specifically Jews and Roman Catholics) to be eligible for office. Quickly it came to also include those of little or no religion. It is useful to ask, did the adoption of this clause in our Constitution make it stronger or weaker?

    FYI, I have been counselled by past priests that I am too judgemental on homosexuals. So this is not coming from anyone who could be considered anywhere near the left side of the aisle.

  26. Wow! My first reaction to what I’ve read above is that there is a whole lot of bigotry and fear amongst Scouters in this country.

    I come at this from my position as a happily married, straight male father and Assistant Scoutmaster in our troop for three years and den leader for my sons’ Cub Scout career from Tigers through Webelos and Arrow of Light.

    Really, what matters to me is whether a boy can benefit from the Scouting experience and grow into a man of good character and self confidence. Our boys already go to den and pack meetings with gay men, women and Scouts. They already know gay Boy Scouts and leaders in Troop and Patrol meetings. They attend school, church and other public & private venues with gay men and women who themselves are caring, moral, good people who want the same thing for their children and want to be accepted in the world for their character and their actions, not their appearance or sexual attraction. If they, and we live the Scout Oath and Law, there really is no reason to even question acceptance within the BSA organization.

    Further, I would bring your attention to the fact that while membership in Scouting requires a belief in a higher power, (remember the BSA Application?,) it specifically does not ask which branch or flavor of reverence a Scout or Scouter practices. To me it follows that certain fudamentalist teachings and interpretations of one holy book, in this case the Bible, really has no place in the argument for or against allowing gay identified membership of Scouts or Scouter adults.

    If it comes down to some sort of poll within Scouting of attitudes about this issue, I and many other qualified Scouter volunteers would probably have to pull out of Scouting if BSA doesn’t join the 21st century with its’ decision in May. I for one will miss not participating in and watching as our Scouts progress and grow, as I have a good time with other Scouters and with my son on many of our campouts and other adventures. I know too that the reaction of many of the posters above will be “good riddance.” I’m OK with that, since I’m pretty sure that I can teach my son outdoor skills and to be a good person and live up the the tenets of the Scout Law and Oath, without the narrow-minded influence of many of the good folks above, who obviously have their own outdated, bigoted agenda to uphold. While he would miss out on many of the valuable shared social experiences, he would also be spared the rampant, un-Scout-like prejudice practiced by some Scouting units and leaders.

  27. Shawn,
    Let’s face it. The real issue for National has nothing to do with morality or discrimination against homosexuals. It is all about the financial health of the National organization. Corporate donations to Boy Scouts are down and our national leaders are convinced it has a lot to do with BSA’s stance on GLBT issues. It probably does. The GLBT lobby is well organized and has consistently demonstrated its influence. Unfortunately National has a track record of doing what they believe is best for the financial stability of the organization even if it isn’t always best for the boys. National isn’t brave. They will try to walk the tight rope passing the buck down to local organizations that will continue to bleed membership over this issue.
    Regardless of the side you take on this issue, there is a flaw to the “join the 21st century” or “it is inevitable” arguments employed by those who support or are indifferent to the introduction of gay issues into scouting. What is and is not moral does not change just because the culture has been desensitized and now accepts a behavior. Admittedly it is an extreme example but the holocaust was not okay just because the German culture took a left turn.
    Today you have Mayor Bloomberg’s administration, NYC, proposing that we hide cigarettes below the counter or behind a curtain because, according to his health department, just the act of viewing the product leads to curiosity and experimentation. I don’t want homosexuality introduced to scouting for the same reason. Young people are formed through early and consistent life experience. They are formed in their faith, moral behavior, and their sexual behavior by the behaviors they see modeled by the older youth and adults around them.
    Frankly I don’t believe there is a place for sex in scouting. I would really like to see the national policy amended to prohibit any overt or open sexual behavior of any kind… hetro or homo sexual. I personally believe the homosexual lifestyle is immoral. I don’t want to be exposed to it. I really don’t want to know what people do behind closed doors and I don’t want what they do behind closed doors pushed on my children.
    Then there are the hypocrites, those labeling others as bigots who “will leave if the policy doesn’t change”. Folks who have been in scouting for 5, 10, 20, and 30 years. Come on, who are you kidding ? You came into an organization that had this policy. If you have been active in the organization as a leader you had to be aware the policy was in place and still you didn’t leave. You didn’t leave two years ago when the Supreme Court reaffirmed BSA’s right to limit its membership based on long held values. Why should National believe you will leave now ? If the policy changes the real question is whether or not those that leave based on deeply held beliefs will be replaced by those who have stayed away.
    Finally, before this policy is changed, I would like to understand the new campout logistics. We don’t currently put teenage boys and girls in the same tent on a Venture crew campout. Will homosexual youth be confined to one man tents ? Will children be randomly assigned to tents regardless of sex or sexual preference ? Will we let kids pick ? Will we let boys and girls in Venture crews who are dating sleep in the same tent? Maybe BSA you should open the program to all youth at all levels, boys, girls, etc, and go in a completely new direction.

  28. The BSA should just stick to its principles and maintain standard for membership. Changing the membership policy will only satisfy an extremely small interest. All this will do is cast the spotlight on a behavior that has no place being discussed or interjected into a childrens program. The non-religious charter organizations have the most to lose. What happens when one of the COs won’t allow a homosexual to join because everyone in the unit just doesn’t care to associate with homosexuals? Chances are it will be played out in the media by the very small vocal special interest. In the end who will lose? The Scouts, because the CO might not recharter the unit as a result of the negative attention it received or the tremedous cost of defending a lawsuit. How would we explain all this to our Scouts?

    • It is largely the non-religious chartering organizations that are being lost to Scouting because of the exclusionary membership rule. Generally speaking, it is problematic for school and civic organizations to be forced to exclude based on sexual orientation.

      • For eternal consequences I agree with you we leave the sinners to god. Where our children are concerned we protect them from exposure to sinners until they have formed and are mature enough to discern right from wrong. There is plenty of evidence that exposure, especially at an early age, desensitizes children to immoral behavior. Leaving the sinners to god’s discretion is fine… leaving our children under the supervision of sinners is not. That is what this policy change is asking us to do. If a child observes a respected adult yelling at his spouse all the time, even if his parents have told him it is wrong, the behavior will be modeled. As a parent I wouldn’t allow my child to be around that adult. Homosexuality is the same.

      • We need to protect our children from sinners? Last I checked that included everybody, including everyone posting on this forum. Seems like a tall order, doesn’t it?

      • What about the homosexual youth that is trying to make sense if their life? What about the Church that does not read their scriptures the way yours do?

      • Not all religious beliefs are equal or correct. We have already established as an organization we aren’t here to serve all youth or all adults. Even our laws recognize that we can’t give equal weight to everyone’s religious beliefs without compromising some kind of core basic value. At some point every organization has to choose who to exclude, they have the right to choose who to exclude, and the Supreme Court has confirmed that right several times. BSA National isn’t changing that reality. Right now they are only changing who they want to exclude. I am sure some are basing the choice on their deeply felt moral conviction. Others have been convinced homosexuality isn’t all that bad because they have been inundated by a growing acceptance of filth in the media. Still others are basing the choice on what they feel are the financial realities of exclude this particular vociferous group.
        I am sure you will think I am horrible but the issue isn’t who I choose to socialize with. The issue is who my children are exposed to before they are mature enough to understand that some people have a broader view of what is acceptable behavior.

      • Well let’s start with one that is similar to homosexuality in that participants can reasonably argue it doesn’t seem to hurt anyone outside of the relationship. That would be polygamy. There are religious groups in this country that still believe it is acceptable. There are Muslim countries that practice it legally.

      • Do you care to name specific religions rather than simply hand waving? It’s clear that you have some in mind. While you’re at it, you might want to explain just how the notion of some religions being “more correct” squares with the BSA’s Declaration of Religious Principle that states that the BSA is a nonsectarian organization.

      • Sure. Some of the Mormon splinters in the US still practice polygamy. Here is a link:

        I know for sure Muslim men in Malaysia can marry multiple wives. I believe men in most Muslim countries can take multiple wives. Some place in the Koran it says 2, 3, or 4.

        We don’t have to square with BSA’s Declaration of Religious Principle that states that the BSA is a nonsectarian organization. That principle doesn’t mean anything goes any more than the Law means you have to courteous, kind, and obedient to someone who is evil.

      • Well, I am not going down he road of whose religion is more correct. Hardly seems that this is a position BSA wants to stake out. If the National organization can’t fashion a big tent to embrace diversity of belief within the confines of the Scout Oath & Law, we will wither becoming less relevant, looking less like America as a whole and not having a positive influence. Sadly I think this is about fear and being unsettled in the face of change and that the forces of fear will rule the day.

        Sent from my iPad

      • We may be on opposite sides of this issue but I don’t think all change is bad. I don’t believe that just because popular culture has adopted a new point of view that the new point of view is moral or good for a program delivered to children. I would be happy changing the policy to be even more restrictive and excluding anyone openly sexual (hetro or homo). As Cubmaster I asked a young couple to be more reserved or leave our pack meeting.

      • John, I think you are really on to something when you say “I would be happy changing the policy to be even more restrictive and excluding anyone openly sexual (hetro or homo).” I think a policy statement that is explicitely restrictive of sexual content in the context of Scouting would be an appropriate way to protect our youth and not have to ban anyone.

      • We all try to follow the Cub Scout motto. An openly gay and avowed homosexual as specified in the current policy makes the task a bit easier. During the winter we don’t leave all the windows open in the house just because we know, no matter how hard we try, some heat is still going to escape. It is the same with sin we don’t stop trying to avoid sin just because we know we are going to fail on a regular basis.

      • John, you wrote: “If a child observes a respected adult yelling at his spouse all the time, even if his parents have told him it is wrong, the behavior will be modeled. As a parent I wouldn’t allow my child to be around that adult. Homosexuality is the same.”
        Nice example, but there is not a ban on respected adults who yell at their spouses. Perhaps there should be, but it would be as unnecessary as the ban on homosexuality. When leaders or youth misbehave, we have protocols in place to take care of it.

  29. I have been registered as an adult leader since 1997, and i have been waiting to receive the poll on homosexuals in scouting. Cub scout age boys have no sexual orientation other than they might know they are male. Boy Scout age boys should not be sexually active, if we as adults are teaching them the principles of the Scout Oath and Law. Therefore sexual orientation of youth should be moot.
    When it comes to adult membership it is a different story. BSA and charter organizations have always discriminated, they have worked hard to have adults to serve as positive role models in the community. As an adult I would not allow a scout to get in a car or bus with a drunk driver. I would not let a scout stay with a drug user or meth-head. Out of thirty-six pervision files that I read, all but one dealt with a adult male homosexual assulting a male youth, except one where an eighteen male had sex with a sixteen year old female. If one would look at the perversion files, Why would the BSA considered a homosexual as an adult leader. Of the three largest religions in the US not one condones homosexuality. The last part of the Scout Law, is “a scout is reverent”, maybe it should be the first part.

  30. Mr Wayne Brock, I thank you and your team for all your thoughtful research and reflection. While I personally feel the “ban” is unnecessary and morally wrong, I will remain obedient and loyal to Scouting as a volunteer leader (17 years) and Eagle Scout regardless of final decision in May. It is a shame that You and the BSA are being bullied from both directions on this issue. Please don’t be afraid to make what I feel is the correct choice. Call the bluff. End the ban. See if that many COs will really walk away. Please know that I stand ready to find a new home for my Scouts if my CO surprises me. Even though it is highly unlikely that my Catholic CO would walk away from the BSA, I will be prepared. May our Creator bless you with the wisdom of Solomon, as you and your team go through this process.

  31. I agree with David S in saluting National’s (and the leadership of Mr. Brock) diligence, in sorting through a very divisive issue. I strongly believe that the input that should hold the most weight are youth and parents of current and very near future, BSA age youth. Several councils have already operated without a ban on Gays in place (with National approval) One such council has a lodge in our OA Section and I was a Scouter there before moving, The Northern Star Council. They have not had the predicted departures or other “projected scenarios of doom”, that some are afraid of. In fact, they are a JTE Gold council.

  32. I for one feel that a change in policy would be healthy for the BSA in the long term. Consider that in 1972, when membership was at its peak, 46% of BSA units were chartered by religious COs, representing about 80,000 units. Today nearly 70% of units are chartered by religious COs, representing… (wait for it) …80,000 units. What that means is that the membership losses that the BSA has seen over this period has been due to the departure of civic and school-based COs, in part due to policies like this.

    The unbalanced membership we see in the BSA, coupled with a shift in emphasis from developing strong citizens with strong values, to instilling strong values in the hope that strong citizenship will follow, are the biggest challenges the BSA has moving forward, in my opinion.

  33. It all boils down to two simple facts- A) Continue to support children thru the program the way it’s been for 103 years and protect them by having them learn, have fun in a SAFE environment….or B) Go for corporate dollars As an Eagle Scout from a family that is in it’s 100th season of volunteering, this whole notion is VERY sad to see our values being trumped for MONEY? Not right!!! D of KC

    • There will be a much higher loss of MONEY (as you put it) if the policy changes. Nearly $8 Million will be lost through the membership loss if the policy changes. A projected $4 million will be lost from those donors DEFUNDING the BSA if the policy changes. Dig deeper to local Councils who will lose additional funding. An estimated $16 million could be lost by the policy change. How much will be lost if we remain status quo with our policy? $2 Million-$5 million seem accurate? This consideration is not one of money trumping our values. Check the math in question if you can find the figures. As a BSA employee I live the difficulties of this policy EVERY day. I’m going to lose donors either way. Will the United Ways and ACLU provide us all the funding we have lost over the past decade due to the policy in place? Doubtful. Money is an issue, but far from being the MAIN issue. Exploring and Learning for Life do not have the same Membership Standards Policy as thr Traditional BSA. There has been cyclical growth in those programs, but they do not equal the amount of loss in traditional Scouting. Public perception, outcry, constant lawsuits (money spent on defending ourselves), and restrictions placed on school access for recruiting is driving the policy change. Ironicly, many “school bullies” refer to our youth members as “fags”, “dorks”, “sissies”, or gay when our policy disallows those who are gay. I have asked numerous times (my son, boys in his troop, other Scouts, and non-Scouts in public school and sports); the number one reason boys don’t join is because they will get labled as homosexuals, geeks, etc. and be ridiculed. All of our surveys have reported back youth and parents were not asked to join (#1 answer) and they were unaware of the location and process to join (#2 answer). The number one reason a boy keeps his membership a secret or won’t join is he will be ridiculed and made fun of. If a boy avoids Scouting because he will be called gay; how do you think allowing avowed homosexuals to join will impact our future growth and finances? Ask our Federal Government why the policy was changed in the military. BSA and military were the final hold-outs in changing the policy on openly gay members. They were forced to change and now we are. People voted for Hope and Change and now they are getting it. THEY never said HOPE and CHANGE would be good for the majority; and it has not been nor will it. That is the issue.

      • I am trying to understand each point…
        1. So if we get rid of the ban, we will lose more money that we already do by keeping the ban. OK. I can’t prove or disprove that because I can’t see into the future. Either way we lose, which is not good. I agree.
        2. You are a BSA employee and you live the difficulty of the ban everyday. Your job may be at risk, so I understand your concern. I would not wish that kind of uncertainty on anyone. I hope it doesn’t come down to people losing jobs.
        3. We shouldn’t change the policy because bullys will call us names that they already call us. OK. I get that but I don’t follow your logic.
        4. The election didn’t go the way you wanted it to and you somehow think you are in the majority. Let’s think about that. The majority of the people voted for “Hope and Change” which I assume is the Democratic ticket who was pretty clear about where they stand on the issues, so yeah it has been good for the majority, because the majority supported them. Also, you are an employee of the BSA which means you work for all Scouts, including those of us who didn’t vote the same way as you. The BSA is a diverse organization that includes republicans, democrats, libertarians and independents, or at least it used to be.

      • Responding to D.S.
        We will lose over $7 Million at the National level (membership fees and Charter fees) if certain Chartering Partners withdraw from Scouting as they previously stated they would if the policy changed. Reason for posting that comment was so many comments claim that BSA cares more about money than values. Changing the policy is not going to be immediately beneficial. I do not know if it ever will. My initial post began as an immediate comment to D of KC. Other points chosen by D S below should have been in response to other comments among this blog; and should have properly posted as such. The political comment was not specific enough. The current Administration desires exponential change throughout the country. It is difficult to determine if all the change thus far is for the best. This administration was able to overturn the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy. That is the change I was referencing (which also upset many Soldiers & Veterans that are Active Scouters) in my above comment. The bully comments were too drawn out and lost its initial purpose-my apologies. If the policy changes; will it make it easier or more difficult for our Boy Scouts to pass through the hallways of their schools? Bullies will probably increase their abhorrent behavior was my point. Unfortunately, if the LDS Church, Missouri Synod Lutheran Church, and Baptist all discontinue their partnership (as they said they would) many Councils will not survive the membership loss; therefore people will lose their jobs. Certain areas of the Council I work in eagerly await the change as a positive move forward; others do not. We shall see how employment throughout the nation will be affected. It most certainly will affect promotion opportunities and upward mobility for those eligible.

      • It is a shame that “certain Chartering Partners” would threaten to withdraw rather than find a reasonable solution. It makes me think that the BSA might be better off without CO’s that would do that. My hat goes off to all the Scouts and COs who have stuck with the BSA in spite of the 1991 policy statement. I thank you Steve for your service to Scouting and for reminding us that we Members and Voluteers may be overlooking the effect this issue is having on our professional staffers.

  34. Thank you for this forum to collect thoughts and considerations on the proposed policy change.

    It is encouraging to hear in this video that the BSA is specifically seeking input from youth and young adults as a key audience. There is a striking difference between how the young ones consider this issue and how us old timers do. Clearly, based on the comments to this blog here, the BSA is receiving a great deal of input grounded in past concepts of morality and behavior. You are hearing from Scouting’s past and surely your efforts to solicit the views of young persons is excellent because they are Scouting’s future.

    I know of at least two Councils where young Scouters who had impressive youth leadership roles (Lodge Chiefs, NYLT, etc.) are writing to Council executives in favor of removing the anti-homosexual exclusionary membership policy.

    The perspective that I would share with you and the national BSA board comes from a commitment to re-engage Eagle Scout Alumni and all alumni back into the growth of Scouting. This is now becoming harder to do and will be increasingly harder to do as time goes on under the distraction caused by the exclusionary anti-gay policy. I have poured in hundreds of hours of my volunteer time over the past six and a half years to develop a thriving Eagle Scout Alumni association in my local Council and I would truly like to see this movement of re-engaging Scouting’s alumni continue to thrive.

    20 years ago, BSA leadership took a myopic view of the future and followed an errant path through the judicial system in order to establish that gay men and lesbian women cannot be “effective role models” for youth, without regard for each one’s individual character. Aside from being untrue, this policy was and is based on ancient prejudices that are now and will be further rejected by our younger Eagle Scout fellow alumni and our society as a whole. Nate Silver’s NYT blog is helpful reading to understand why and how this is occurring.

    We are torn in this discussion process by the fact that many of our Scouting brethren hold fast to those ancient prejudices toward same-sex relationships. That argument against gays in Scouting is based on morality, and yet, the conviction that prejudicial discrimination is wrong is also morally-based. Thus we need a bigger tent that can encompass a larger, more diverse appreciation of morality.

    Please move forward with a vision that over time, Scouting will walk back the national membership exclusion of gays. Permitting chartering organizations to impose such a rule in their units may or may not work as an interim strategy. And it certainly appears that a sweeping change all at once in 2013 will be hard to do. So I thank you once again for your leadership and the leadership of our national board to open up this Scouting-wide conversation. And I would suggest that a transition period of up to two years may be necessary for the BSA as a whole to make this necessary turn in policy.

    • Hi Rob,
      I think your time horizon is a bit short but maybe not. Before WWII it didn’t take the Germans and the Japanes that enslaving and killing groups of people were reasonable and moral choices. I know it is an extreme example but just because a group of people with a strong lobby keeps telling us something is okay doesn’t make it so. Even if the people we encounter from the group are good and moral people based on our encounters with, it doesn’t make everything they do good and moral or even just okay…. it just doesn’t.

      • John, you are correct that your example of maniacal, murderous nations is very extreme. It has no relevance to this matter of BSA membership; none that I can see. And also, your reply underscores the great problem the BSA has in making a “bigger tent” for inclusive membership when some folks want to keep equating homosexuality with the sins of killing and enslavement.

  35. There are far greater evils I have encountered in my scouting career (both as a youth and as an adult volunteer) than two den mothers who share the same bed. The issue of homosexuality is utterly irrelevant to scouting. Stopping the threat from predators and bullies — a different group of people entirely — is where our energy should be focused. My thoughts on this issue run too deep for the comment space on this blog, so I invite you to visit my own response on my personal blog at .

  36. Gay people have historically been discriminated against. Finally we are coming to understand that sexual orientation is primarily an innate characteristic – that’s the current consensus among scientists and health care professionals who study homosexuality. Whatever rationale may have once existed to justify discrimination based on sexual orientation, at this point in time the only valid justification that remains is based upon the doctrines of various religions. But as other religions do not object to homosexuality, BSA, as a multi-faith organization (showing no favoritism towards one religion over another) should stay out of taking sides in matters of religious doctrine. It should be left up to the chartered organization to determine their membership standards based upon their own teachings and values. All chartered organizations should be respectful of BSA’s status as a multi-faith organization by not expecting BSA to force their values on this question on other COs with different values. By making the proposed change, BSA will be protecting it’s future relevancy concerning a matter that the overwhelming majority of young people have already decided is nobody’s business but the individual involved. Currently BSA is contributing in a negative way to the continuing second class status of, and discrimination towards, a group being unfairly victimized. This is especially hard on teens gradually coming to the painful realization that they ended up with the “wrong” kind of sexuality. BSA, currently, is part of the problem. It is time for BSA to become part of the solution.

  37. I just left the BSA news link with about 20 various news media responding to our ‘media statement’ on the proposed resolution. It got slammed soundly. The only way to appease anyone will be to make a clear and definitive statement that either we maintain our long standing policy or we adopt a policy similar to the Girl Scouts that opens membership up to anyone including homosexuals and athiests. Anything in between those two positions will not be acceptable or tolerable to those that are vocal on either side. We can hope that the majority will accept whatever decision is made and move ahead with the program.

  38. Other religions advocate animal sacrifice. Should we invite that practice into the program to be shared at summer camps around the country ? This whole idea of letting the sponsoring organizations decide policy based on their own beliefs falls apart at district, council, inter council, and national events. BSA needs to stop trying to thread the needle and make a call. Either homosexuals are in or they are out and we will not revisit the decision for another 25 years. Once they make their decision then everyone else can vote with their feet or by taking the scouts to court. Those scouters who want homosexuals in the program can leave if the vote goes against them and those scouters with more traditional values can leave if the vote goes against them. This back and forth is probably costing us more members than a decision either way will. I have my preference but I have not decided what I will do if BSA comes down wrong. I may just wait to see whether or not the decision actually affects my local troop.

  39. Mark,
    It is an interesting dilemma. When I have talked to parents who support including homosexuals as leaders and pry further to find their comfort level with sending their boys on overnights with gay leaders you find several who are conflicted. They aren’t comfortable with the idea even though they have been convinced such feelings are bigoted. Parents are going to be cautious. They will leave or they just won’t join.

  40. They must not understand the youth protection policies that the BSA has in place that exist regardless of a person’s sexuality. Hopefully those policies are being communicated to them to alleviate their fears.

  41. So as long as porn star took youth protection and followed BSA youth protection policies while around the scouts you wouldn’t have a problem with them being a troop leader and taking your child on a campout ? This is about leaders modeling behaviors parents want their children to adopt. Behaviors the parents are comfortable with. Bottom line that is what the program is. The kids aren’t exposed to the program, they don’t get to make the choice, unless the parents are already on board.

  42. John – you are taking incredible quantum leaps with your thinking or lack there of. Gay people are capable of having serving as good role models for youth and adults. Many parents are comfortable with this and would be fine selecting these people as role models for their kids. The choice in leadership selection lies with the parents and chartered partners. All I’m asking is that they be allowed to make their choice.

    • Hi Mark –
      The problem is you are confusing the change in policy as a choice for everyone. If that is really what happen then I might be able to support the change as well. Unfortunately the “choice” you support become a choice only for those organizations that support the inclusion of homosexual members. We can all agree that Summer Camp, District and Council activities, National and World Jamborees are all integral and essential elements of the scouting experience. If the policy is changed to allow the “choice” then the only choice traditional troops will have is not to attend or to risk exposing their scouts to situations they have chosen to exclude. Our experience locally has been that attendance at Summer camp is a major factor in whether or not a bridging scout continues in the program. I doubt very much our district, our council, or national will plan to hold two versions of each event they organize, one for modern troops and one for traditional troops. Nor will national restrict access to the high adventure camps based on sexual preference. Can you imagine the impact of a Philmont application that includes an ” * ” with a footnote indicating “these weekends are open to modern troops that may include homosexuals” or “these weekends are reserved only for troops with traditional values” ? It may seem like an oxymoron but allowing choice at the level of the sponsoring organization takes choice away at every higher organizational level in the BSA.
      Local program impact has already been a problem. We have Packs and Troops that have delayed their Friends of Scouting presentations until after the vote. Our Council has been informed Friends of Scouting presentations will not be held until those same Packs and Troops understand the logistics that will be implemented to meet their needs. If the policy does change I hope our local Council has replacement donors from the organizations (the United Way, JCC, etc) that have pushed this change lined up to pick up the financial slack. Unfortunately if they don’t have replacement donors several BSA professionals will lose their jobs.

      • The separate but equal argument was settled decades ago.
        Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed by the United States military.
        States, one by one, are respecting full marital rights of gays.
        Christian denominations, little by little, are doing the same.
        And the only bearing this has on the BSA is because the BSA chose to take a stand against societal change rather than recognizing it is not the purview of the Scouting program to teach sexual morality.

        I am still unable to understand the paranoia espoused in this thread that gay leaders are going to have some kind of gay agenda that they will teach the scouts. I am confident we all agree any leader displaying sexual behavior in front of the scouts or teaching any kind of sexual agenda is inappropriate to the scouting program. This is a universal truth. Such a leader should be removed from a leadership position.

        Conversely, if a leader is NOT displaying sexual behavior or teachings in front of the scouts and is solely focused on the Scouting program, then it is NOT the business of the program what that leader does in the privacy of his/her own home with another consenting adult.

        The Scouting program is about teaching our sons self reliance and real-world skills to help them grow up to be of strong character. Gay vs. straight has positively zero bearing on that. Curiously, bigotry, paranoia, and fear of the unknown, do.

      • Clator – I see that you agree with me in that this will ultimately be an all or nothing decision.

        Based on your comments I am concerned your scouting program may be short changing your scouts. Scouting is about more than self reliance and real world skills. In fact the scout oath and law recited at each of our troop meetings only addresses moral and ethical issues as they relate to God, other people, and self governance. At its core scouting is about teaching morality. Frankly on the homosexual issue we aren’t dealing with bigotry, paranoia, or fear of the unknown as you imply. We know in no uncertain terms the behavior is immoral. Check with the custodian of your faith. Whether it is a public or private activity really has no bearing. The behavior does affect the scouts since their lives are not as compartmentalized as you would like to believe. We had a homosexual principal in our middle school who was a great administrator. There was no inappropriate sexual behavior by the principal at the school. However all the kids were aware of her sexual orientation and it was discussed by the children and by the parents. Like it or not having a homosexual in the position of authority at the school did teach the children something… it taught them homosexual behavior is acceptable when it clearly is not.

  43. [Editor’s note: As outlined in our commenting guidelines linked at the top of this page, as well as the BSA’s social media policy, we do not tolerate personal attacks or name calling online. All opinions are welcome, but please share them in a considerate, “Scout-like” fashion.] Mr. McMullen, your reply is teetering on the brink of McCarthyism. Have you no decency, sir? This is a national debate and this forum is part of the national stage. Casting aspersions on an individual unit’s program you have zero insight into or experience with because you disagree with my position fails to see the forest for the trees. Our unit is cited as one of the best in one of the largest councils in the country. With liberal and conservative families making up the unit and its leadership, this national debate does not factor into our unit’s program one bit. Our focus is on the program, and that program is strong.

    Our unit is not chartered by a house of worship but by a veteran’s organization. We support the Declaration of Religious Principle. We believe in the Scout Oath including the Duty to God and Country. But as an organization chartered not by a specific faith but by a military service organization, we recognize it is the responsibility of individual scout family to interpret what that means at their respective houses of worship. We have a high number of our scouts who have received God and Country through their various denominations to which they belong.

    Not all denominations interpret the morality of this issue the way you do. The church where I serve and lead worship weekly (and have taught God and Country) is part of a major mainstream Christian denomination that has already revised its stance on homosexuality, accepting partnered homosexuals into church leadership, including ordination. Whether you agree with this is immaterial; my Scouting unit operates in accordance with the Declaration of Religious Principle and is not in a position to interpret that further. The morality of homosexuality is a more granular issue that is the domain of the church, not our program.

    Your final sentence is most crucial. You say “having a homosexual in the position of authority … taught them homosexual behavior is acceptable when it clearly is not.” Clear to whom? You are stating your opinion. It is is the interpretation of you and your faith, and it is your right hold any opinion you want. But your opinion is not shared with the majority of your fellow American citizens. Your opinion is not shared by military policy. Your opinion is not shared with most U.S. and state laws and courts. And your opinion is not shared by a growing number of Christian denominations. Our country is based on the principle that majority opinion, not the opinion of an elite few, decides what is acceptable in our society. We may not always agree, but we must never lose sight of our singular binding tie: America. We are the Boy Scouts of America. Not the Boy Scouts of Heterosexuality.

    • So HOW can I as an Eagle Scout ever say Morally Straight again if this sin laden proposition passes? THAT concerns me! HOW can I justify this position to my nephewsin Cubs and now in my Troop? Really sad… to know that ALL medical fields listed homosexuality as a mental disorder for CENTURIES…now it’s acceptable eh? What’s next? Can I marry my cat? Really sad to see all of this happen…. You know this is all an effort to destroy Scouting right??? Who really wins in this situation? NOT the kids…

  44. It is not my opinion; if it was only my opinion then I couldn’t be so clear. The bible condemns homosexuality in Leviticus, Romans, and Timothy. What is legal in America is not necessarily moral or behavior children should be exposed to until they are old enough and well enough formed to know the difference.
    In 2010 BSA undertook a review of this policy and confirmed it again in 2012. Less than two years later we are revisiting what was a settled issue. Several of us feel betrayed by a National organization that chose to drag us back through this process. Just the fact we are here again so soon seems to suggest a bias. If this new proposal passes I wonder if National is going to be open to revisiting this same issue two years from now when sponsoring organizations recognize it isn’t working and they propose we rescind the change ?
    I would like to suggest right now we review this policy again in 2015.

  45. Mr. McDuff, I question why you are justifying any position regarding sexuality to your cub-aged nephews or to your Troop members. Unless you are the legal guardian, spiritual adviser, or a licensed health educator to these children and youths, both audiences are inappropriate for the topic of human sexuality.

    Mr. McMullen, the Bible condemns lots of things we flagrantly indulge in. Where is the same fervor in condemning the pork industry? The farm industry? The textile industry? Or the barber industry? The same book of Leviticus condemns all these things.

    Leviticus on Pork:
    Leviticus 11:7-8
    “And the pig, because it parts the hoof and is cloven-footed but does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. You shall not eat any of their flesh, and you shall not touch their carcasses; they are unclean to you.”

    Leviticus on Shellfish:
    Leviticus 11:12
    “Anything living in the water that does not have fins and scales is to be regarded as unclean by you.”

    Leviticus on strict about animal husbandry, against crop rotation, and clothes are made from more than one material.
    Leviticus 19:19
    “Keep my decrees. Do not mate different kinds of animals. [Mule breeders: Fail] Do not plant your field with two kinds of seed. [Raisers of vegetable gardens: Fail] Do not wear clothing woven of two kinds of material. [Wearers of poly-cotton t-shirts: Fail]”

    But wait, there’s more: A clean cut youth such as you’d find in all of our troops is also flagrantly disobeying God’s Laws. Leviticus on haircuts:
    Leviticus 19:27
    “Do not cut the hair at the sides of your head or clip off the edges of your beard.”
    (Apparently the hippie look of the 60s is actually preferable in the Eyes of the Lord.)

    In Romans, Paul also offers: “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister. I am convinced, being fully persuaded in the Lord Jesus, that nothing is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for that person it is unclean.”

    In other words, first be true to your beliefs, but respect that others will interpret Biblical law differently.

    Again, this is ALL immaterial to the proposal before the Executive Committee. As much as the Bible may mean to you and to me, we are not the Boy Scouts of Conservative Christianity. We are the Boy Scouts of America. We adhere the Declaration of Religious Principle. Not to specific dogmas not shared by all faiths.

  46. Thank you to everyone who has posted their thoughts on this video (and topic in general). While your views are welcome, it is difficult to continue moderating comments from videos posted several months ago while continuing to work on new episodes. This becomes especially apparent when specific questions are posted, and we are unable to answer them in a timely fashion. Therefore, rather than posting your question or comment here, we are asking that you contact your local Scout executive directly with any pertinent questions about policies, procedures, and the like. Thank you again for your feedback.

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