New Membership Policy

Now that a new membership policy has been adopted, what exactly will that mean for the BSA? Specifically, what will and will not change? Above all else, every member of Scouting is expected to live up to the high standards of the Scout Oath and Scout Law, exemplify the highest level of good conduct, and treat each other with care and respect. These things will never change. As always, please use the comments section to share your thoughts about our path forward.

43 thoughts on “New Membership Policy

  1. Thank you Wayne, as you posted this I have been calling donors this afternoon for no other reason than “thank you.” We need to continue and support our benefactors and friends better than ever before, they are out there.

  2. The path forward for BSA is very difficult. In allowing open and avowed homosexual boys we are increasing the risk of inappropriate sexual contact with devastating results for the boys, the troop leaders and for BSA. We eliminated the ability to defend our historical position against open and avowed homosexual adult leaders and ensured a second event in the near future that will force our core constituents to carefully consider BSA’s ability to build character by their personal definition. Conservative Christian families have been the backbone of BSA for a hundred years and they still are.

    As an assistant scoutmaster I have a duty to keep my scouts safe. I deal in reality, not the theoretical or the politically correct. I have seen the power of sexual attraction and the destructive results when attraction is acted upon in inappropriate ways. I believe that people get into trouble not because they set out looking for it, but because they find themselves in situations where doing the wrong thing is easy.

    BSA has implemented one of the best programs in existence to protect boys from the sexual attraction of adult leaders. If the BSA leadership is genuine in its desire to protect boys they must take seriously the risk that exists when boys who are open and avowed in their attraction to boys are put in close sleeping quarters with other boys. We must publish procedures based on the adult restrictions. Then we must require adult leader training and enforce compliance with the same vigor that we do the ones for adults. We must then be transparent in reporting and prosecuting all incidents. Anything less will needlessly endanger the scouts and seriously erode the confidence of parents.

    Changing the policy was, in my opinion, a horrible mistake. I believe that history will judge harshly this change and the leadership who so strongly encouraged it. I also believe that it sets into motion changes that will erode BSA’s sustained ability to build character as defined by the majority of charter organizations and parents who are currently involved. If a viable alternative organization emerges there will be many who opt out of Boy Scouts. If not, BSA will linger based on its historical success, but I believe will lose the core who carry it through “thick and thin”.

    I am an Eagle Scout as are my three sons. BSA has been a major part of our lives. I am seriously considering what my involvement will be going forward. I have my Christian beliefs and the Holy Bible as my moral compass. I find open and avowed homosexual boys a safety issue that fundamentally changes the ability to conduct over-night activities (which I believe are essential to a successful program). I find allowing an open and avowed homosexual leader to be as incompatible with my definition of character as an open and avowed adulterer. Leaving scouting will not be easy, but neither will be staying.

  3. Everyone knows this initial policy change is just a foot in the door to make people “comfortable” with that lifestyle, and BSA will very soon give in to the next wave of pressure, first embracing gay leaders, then every form of sexual deviancy. It’s a slippery slope, Wayne.

    • Thank you for your comments. I agree wholeheartedly. That’s why we left the Girl Scouts USA…many of the same reasons and look at them today. Eventually, the BSA will become a scouting organization that is wide open with no moral compass as God as the instrument. Sad day…My son is heartbroken….but, let me ENCOURAGE those that are leaving or thinking of leaving. TWO years ago we left GSUSA to AHG with a heavy heart. TWO YEARS LATER…we are OVER JOYED with our scouting experience. It will be okay and God will see you through. You will make it through and be once again joyful. Follow His lead.

  4. We need to be relentless in getting this message to the general public. Too many do not understand what specifically has changed and what specifically has not changed.

  5. Thank you for your unwavering leadership during this challenging time in the Scouting Movement.

  6. I disagree with the above comments against the policy change. if anything, the policy strengthens the Scout Oath and Law, because it places a moral behavioral standard on the policy, extending it to all inappropriate sexual activity. The old policy dealt with real or perceived labels, not behavior.

    Our Council blog pointed out why this change would help strengthen character and why our major charter partner supports the policy change:

  7. Great step in the right direction. Discrimination within BSA is unacceptable and this Nation will demand to see change. Evolve with the times or die in the past.

  8. I have worked for the BSA at SHAC for close to 7 years. I am out in the schools with the Scouts. it seems to be more of a parent problem the boys except each other at face value. Your message made it clear we are and always have been out to improve lives and I see nothing has changed.

  9. How do we respond back to those volunteers who are questioning “morally straight” as a result of the change?

    • Have them read the Boy Scout Handbook’s section explaining that part of the Scout Oath: “To be a person of strong character, guide your life with honesty, purity, and justice. Respect and defend the rights of all people. Your relationship with others should be honest and open. Be clean in your speech and actions, and faithful in your religious beliefs. The values you follow as a Scout will help you become virtuous and self-reliant.”

      Your volunteers asking that question may have a different personal definition of “morally straight” than what is listed in the handbook. If so, fine – that is their right. But their definition is not now nor has it ever been the one taught by the Boy Scouts of America. This doesn’t mean that we belittle or disparage them… but we do need to clearly communicate with them what Scouting teaches.

      • Being clean in speech and actions is the challenge for both boys and adults who are homosexual. As long as they don’t promote homosexuality through either their speech or actions then we don’t have a conflict with the Scout Oath. As soon as they are “open and avowed” we do. I agree morally straight was never limited to heterosexual vs homosexual. Instead it an admonition against an entire range of deviant behavior. You can replace the word homosexuality with theft, lying, cheating, bullying, and several other problematic behaviors. If promoted through speech or actions they all violate the morally straight clause in the oath.

  10. As a newly hired District Executive I have already seen the challenges that lie ahead, and despite the fact that the resolution conflicts with my Christian beliefs I joined the profession because my ability to have a positive impact on the youth of my district is what drew me back to the Scouts as a professional. As adults and parents we have a responsiblity to equip our children with all of the tools necessary to navigate the treacherous waters that constitute life, and I cannot think of a more respectable organization that is founded on this notion.

  11. I am not happy with this decision at all. I am currently at a week long scout camp with 32 boys that parents have entrusted to me to care for. I have been in scouts for 42 years and I am disappointed with this policy change. Character counts and a truth is right for all people in all places at all times. You don’t change your policy…you have opened the flood gate and allowed peer pressure to impact your leadership…

    • Morally straight is not a assertion of sexuality! It means on the ‘straight and narrow.’ Cub scouts used to have a motto that was Be Square. Which was great in the 1950s. By the 60s ‘square’ was a derogatory term for a dweeb.

      Only in modern connotation does ‘straight’ have a sexual connotation. Back when the oath was written, ‘gay’ still meant happy an light!

      This is a great change for the Boy Scouts and for us Christians who understand that people who are born with same sex attraction are not deviants or sinners because of their birth.

      • Tomas, you have stated a contradiction. You claim to be a Christian which is great, but being a follower of Christ then you follow God’s Word that He created man and woman. Since we are created in the Image of God; and God is not gay but states that homosexual behavior is a sin then a person in “not born gay” but makes a choice to be gay. People become deviant because of the decision to sin and stay in that sin.Romans 3:23 states that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. It is our sin nature. Morally straight is an assertion that you are not a deviant…The Cub Scout motto to Be Square is the same thing as morally straight. A truth again is right for all people at all times in all places. You can apply your own standard all you want, but our standards are not based on man but on God…

      • I was right with Tomas until his final paragraph but Rodney is correct… the contradiction is that you cannot be on the straight and narrow with God and practice homosexuality at the same time.

      • A Scout is Reverent. A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others.

        Please re-read that last sentence as much as necessary. There are many Christian faiths that teach tolerance and inclusion. For anyone to unilaterally dismiss them as contradictory, or for anyone to feel that they are so divinely blessed as to define what “true” Christianity is, or to purport to be privy to the “correct” interpretation of the Bible is completely disrespectful to the beliefs of others.

        Additionally, what about non-Christian faiths that do not discriminate against homosexuality? Nowhere in the law does it proscribe inflicting your moral tenets on faiths that do not share them.

      • In response to Mr. Leiss. You can carry anything to an extreme including the Scout Oath and Law. You shouldn’t expect that folks with traditional values are going to stay in an organization turning away from its past to invite in a segment of the population that act immorally…. whether or not it is acceptable to someone else’s religion. As a nation we aren’t accepting of the muslim fanactics attacking this country based on their religious beliefs why would we be expected to be accepting of religions or their representatives that are attacking the moral fabric of this country ? This country has a lot of problems to deal with today and much of it stems from the lack of self discipline allowed in our schools, our public institutions, and now private organizations… like scouts. The lack of self discipline is demonstrated by council boards like those in the Connecticut Rivers and Connecticut Yankee councils that don’t seem to understand what a national policy is and who seem to think it is okay to have policies that conflict with BSA’s policy on this topic.

  12. Well, the times they are changing. If this is for the good or the bad we shall see in the near future. I personally do not think this will be the end of scouting because for me scouting has never been focused on religion or beliefs. Instead it has been about giving scouts a positive life learning experience. What do I mean by positive life learning? It’s about opening their eyes to new things. Taking them to places where they have never been. Trying things they would have never done and above all else trying things and failing at them because it is when we try something and don’t succeed that we learn and then get better. Today I am a great orator and can successfully give a speech in front of others with little to no prep because of the experiences I leaned at JLT. When I was young I learned how to cook dinner for my family while my fellow school mates were perfectly content to let other cook for them. I learned that religion was an important part of my life but I also learned that my fellow friends have their own religions different then mine and theirs was just as important as mine and that true scouting did not discriminate against that.

    • When people say “Created in God’s Image”… is God Male or Female? And honestly, since there is only ONE God, how can you say he’s anything-sexual? It’s God, not a human. God has no sexual leanings. By “God is not homosexual” we should all not have sex, because I’m sure God doesn’t.

      The thing I find most disappointing about those leaving and dis-avowing the organization based on this decision are their lack of desire to honestly help other youth. A Cub Scout doesn’t know if he’s homo or heterosexual, and honestly no matter what they are when they reach the age where it even becomes an issue, the more important moral values – things other than who you choose to sleep with, you know, like being honest, trustworthy, kind… which exist independently of sexual preference believe it or not… have been established, and for those joining later, are equally important for them to learn, and have the exposure to.

      It’s not up to us to judge others and their lives, God will do that in his own time. If they’re breaking God’s law, He will deal with that when he sees fit, and it’s not our responsibility to do so. Now if they break a Human law, that’s a different matter, but those are, and should be, two different things as we do not possess the ability to truly see God’s plans.

      It makes me angry when judgmental, hateful people perch themselves on being “Christian”. Christian is not about making yourself better than anyone else, it’s about helping and loving others, and trying to show them the best path, not shoving it down their throat and shunning them when they refuse to listen. God gifted us with free will and I see how we treat others in their decisions as much a test of our spirits as the decisions we ourselves make.

      I hope the BSA does allow homosexual leaders, because those people can be just as good and kind as any heterosexual person, and in most cases less of a threat, because what they want are men, not little boys, unlike the pedophiles of the world. They can follow God just as well as anyone else, even if their interpretation is different, and I can promise you, not a single one of us has a perfect interpretation of God’s word, not in any language.

      Treat everyone with love, respect, and kindness… even if you disagree with them.

      • So Lindsey are you the parent who agrees to let there son sleepover at anyone in the classes home ? Does he play with the child who every other parent recognized as the trouble maker ? How many friends has he lost because you force him to associate with the outcasts ?

  13. It is important to PAY ATTENTION to the details of the policy. Sexually active Scouts (hetero or otherwise) can not be in Scouting. I have two sisters in law who are gay. They can not control how they feel; however, for religious reason have an obligation to control how they act on those feelings. They have an obligation to abstain from sexual activity. I firmly feel that a person is only immoral when they allow themselves to give in to their feelings and desires and conduct themselves contrary to moral standards. Someone who has same sex attraction is not an immoral person. They only become immoral when they act upon their feelings. Anyone out there who doesn’t have a challenge that they have to deal with day in and day out, please raise your hand. As for the rest of us, compassion for Scouts who struggle with keeping themselves morally straight (heterosexually speaking or homosexually speaking) is in order. Any religion that shuns someone who wants to do the right thing even though they have feelings contrary to what is right is not a religion that has the right to align itself with the Savior. All people struggling with doing what is morally right regardless of what it is need the Savior more than anyone else. True Christianity reaches out to the imperfect individual (all of us) to help that person make correct choices in dealing with his/her imperfections. Only Christ can remove an imperfection according to His plan for each of us. Until that imperfection is removed we have an obligation to do our best to overcome and conquer with His help and encourage others along their path to overcome weaknesses.

  14. I am proud to work for the Boy Scouts of America because we understand the importance of giving ALL children the same opportunity to experience Scouting. I hope in the near future we can offer the same to our leaders!

  15. As a Scoutmaster of 20 years, I have struggled with this policy revision. I always consider the safety of my scouts foremost in my responsibility as a leader. Having worked in a High School for 17 years, I have had exposure to students with the alternative life style. Some slip through life under the radar, others for lack of a better term are “flaming” in their declaration. Are there scouts that are gay currently in scouting, probably. Are there adult leaders that are gay in scouting, most certainly. Most all slip through scouting under the radar. Much like the real world, most choose to slip through life under the radar. Trained leaders following the guidelines of Youth Protection will be the key factor as scouting moves forward on this policy. I believe in the Scouting Program! I try to provide the opportunities for outdoor experiences, life skills, and leadership potential. Many scouts choose different path’s through scouting. Can I make them all take the same path, no! In the end all I can hold myself responsible for is providing the opportunities they might never have, provide guidance and direction to make reasonable decisions, and do my best to keep them from any harm. I see so many kids today struggling to make good choices in life. In today’s society, more and more homes are single parent, usually with the mother raising the children. I have had single mothers tell me they put their sons in scouting to give them a positive male role model. Sometimes that can be a tremendous responsibility, but it can also become an opportunity to make a difference in that young mans life. Sometimes it just takes someone that will listen to turn their life around. Am I personally happy about the new policy, NO! The opportunity to make that difference in some young mans life is why I choose to remain a leader.

  16. We have indeed started down a slippery slope. I would have preferred an all or nothing as the vote has made neither side happy.

  17. Okay Wayne so we move forward. Is National going to enforce policy or just pronounce it ? Do we really have a “national” policy or was this whole painful process for show ? What steps is National taking to correct the behavior of councils like Connecticut Rivers and Connecticut Yankee ? Both councils have published policies accepting gay adults. Will there be consequences for these rogue councils ? Will their members be restricted from participation in national programs and high adventure camps (ie: the national jamboree, Philmont, Sea Base, etc) ? Has a reporting process been established ?

  18. Yes, what repercussions or consequences will these rogue councils receive? It would be unfair if we were not following the same set of rules. Wayne can you answer this question for the group?

  19. We have been assured by both councils that they will comply with the national membership policy.

    • Hi Wayne,
      What does their assurance mean when they communicate something else ? Will the Connecticut Yankee Council be publishing a retraction of the communication I have attached below ? Frankly I don’t, nor do our scouts, ever pledge to respect people who behave immorally. There is folly in believing it is wrong to be intolerant of or prejudice against people who behave immorally.

      Dear Connecticut Yankee Council Scouting family,

      The Boy Scouts of America, Connecticut Yankee Council is committed to providing high quality programs that deliver leadership skills, citizenship training, character development and personal fitness to young people in 37 communities in southwestern Connecticut. We are committed to our mission, we respect other’s viewpoints, and we are welcoming of others.

      Scouting in the Connecticut Yankee Council is open to all youth and adults who subscribe to the values of the Scout Oath and Law regardless of their personal sexual orientation. All our Scouts and leaders must display the highest levels of good conduct and any sexual conduct within Scouting is unacceptable. Our charter partners retain the responsibility to select the best possible leadership for their units consistent with their moral values.

      Our Scouts and leaders repeatedly pledge to respect all people and defend the rights of others. Prejudice, intolerance and unlawful discrimination of any form are unacceptable within our membership.

      By remaining true to our values, and keeping our conviction of preparing young people for life, we strive to expand our capacity to serve more youth through high quality programs.


      Michael Abrahamson
      Council President

  20. Most important point I think we don’t say enough: The new BSA membership policy is in line with nearly all the church youth-group policies. No church I know of automatically kicks youth members out if they realize they are gay. Why should the BSA?

  21. Wayne,
    Will National post the volunteer voting results by Council or State?
    It would be beneficial if America could see how each state voted on this issue.
    Similar to the red/blue Presidential election results…
    I was curious on the results and others have expressed similar interests.

    • Jed, there is no way to know. The voting process was handled by a third party firm, TruBallot, and was conducted in such a way that how someone marked their ballot is unknown, We know that John Smith voted, but we do not know how he voted.

  22. I am trying to understand. This is just for the Boys or we going to have Gay Leaders too? The Church here in N.C. Are throwing out the B.S.A. because of gay leaders. Please, Help! Us all understand… And why do we need the boys to come out of the closet. This will make the straight boys very uncomfortable. The Boys in our unit are really worried about all this… We used to have 10 boys and 7 leaders; now were down to 5 boys and 3 leaders. Tell me again how is this helping to bring up the numbers of boys into scouting… I am a Unit Commissioner!

    • There continues to be misunderstanding of the new policy which goes into affect on Jan. 1, 2014. It only affects youth. The adult policy remains unchanged. The new youth policy basically states that a youth member simply stating he or she is attracted to someone of the same sex, but not engaged in sexual activity, does not automatically call for their dismissal from Scouting. The policy separates attraction from behavior. Any sexual conduct whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting. Also, it states that no member may use Scouting to promote or advance any social or political position or agenda. This policy is reflective of how most of our major religious chartered organizations operate their youth programs.

  23. I do not believe it is my place to judge another human being. When I stand before my Lord and Savior, I pray the flashbacks of my life are of love, and kindness, and understanding for everyone. I have no memory of meeting a mean or rude gay person. I wish I could say that about everyone. Each generation is supposed to learn from past generation’s mistakes…. to be better, stronger and smarter than the last. My 25 year-old daughter recently told me she believes in 50 years we will look back and realize the ignorance of this discrimination, just like we have realized the ignorance about other discriminations our Country has faced. I pray she is right. Remember, our sins may not be the same but we are all sinners, and when we point a finger at someone, there are 4 fingers pointing back at us.

    To our Chief,
    I am always moved by your love of God, family and Scouting. Thank you for everything you do, and God bless you always.

    Peace be with each and everyone of you,
    A National Council employee

  24. Dear Wayne, I met with a Charter Organization Rep, which is a local Christian based church, regarding some very specific questions raised by their elders. I listed these below, not because I think you can answer them directly, but because I want to understand what current efforts our movement is making to help answer these types questions. My understanding is that there is a task force working on materials to help local councils with these types of questions. Do we have any update? Please, understand the questions are directly from this charter organization and I just don’t know how to answer them. They may seem a little strange, but I just want to be able to follow up with them to keep Scouting an active part of their ministry. Thanks for all that you do!

    1 – Will there be any changes to current policies regarding sleeping arrangements on Scout activities? We know that separate accommodations must be made for members of opposite sex in the Venturing program. Will this be true for youth that are attracted to the same sex? Will there be any changes to leader training to address this concern?

    2- Will there be any change to the youth application in which a checkbox or similar device will be used for prospective members to indicate sexual preference? I should add that the charter organization would not be in favor of this.

    3- Does the BSA plan to implement any sort of sexual preference tolerance training for unit leaders? I should add that the organization would not be in favor of this, either.

    I figure if I’m getting these questions in the field other executives probably get them, too. I appreciate any resources you can point me toward. I look forward to serving more youth!


    Bob DeWar

    • I will assume that based on silence this has not been answered as of yet? I also have a faith based charter organization that has similar questions and they are NOT being answered. Silence answers nothing. We need to address these questions straight on so our chater orgs can make a decision on whether to renew or not come Jan 1st.


      John Stevens

  25. We are now in the process of rechartering for 2014. I have one family holding onto their dues waiting for answers regarding the implementation of the new policy. Answers to Bob DeWar’s questions 1 and 3 are over due.

  26. 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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