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Boy Scouts To Review Anti-Gay Policy

Jim Burroway

June 6th, 2012

Zach Wahls

The Boy Scouts of America has announced that it will consider a resolution that would allow individual troops to accept gay adults as troop leaders. BSA spokesman Deron Smith however cautioned that he doesn’t expect the ban on gay scout leaders to be lifted anytime soon.

The resolution, submitted by a Scout leader from the Northeast, was presented last week at the Scouts’ national meeting in Orlando, along with a petition by presented by former Eagle Scout Zach Wahls. You may remember him as the Iowa college student who delivered a moving statement about being raised by two mothers before the Iowa House Judiciary Committee, which was considering a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Wahls presented a petition from Change.org bearing more than 275,000 names protesting the Boy Scouts’ decision to bar an Ohio lesbian mother from serving as a cub scout den mother.

Smith said that the resolution would be referred to a subcommittee, which would make a recommendation to the national executive board. He estimated that the process would probably take until May, 2013.

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Bose in St Peter MN
June 7th, 2012 | LINK

The essential triangulating factor here is that Zach’s new book is structured around the core principles he learned while becoming an Eagle scout, in a program where his moms were not excluded.

Reilly
June 7th, 2012 | LINK

Taking time out of a busy life to testify before a state committee on a contentious political issue — and at such a young age, and with one’s emotional connection to the matter always present and threatening to swell up. That must take courage, poise, character… What, is this guy an Eagle Scout or something? :)

Hyhybt
June 7th, 2012 | LINK

I’m curious: why ony troop leaders? Why not, especially when they’re only just considering things anyway, consider allowing gay *scouts* as well?

Steve
June 7th, 2012 | LINK

Never going to happen. The BSA are controlled almost entirely by the Mormons and Catholics. They’re just doing this so they can pretend to be open and progressive for having “considered” it, but they have already decided to reject it.

Erp
June 7th, 2012 | LINK

@hyhybt

From the reading of tea leaves (since the official BSA policy sometimes hides), gay scouts (youth members) are already allowed (the view seems to be that really young ones might be led astray but shouldn’t be thrown out since they are young but moral ones will eventually either become heterosexual or vow perpetual chastity but certainly not call themselves ‘homosexual’). However as long as they consider themselves ‘homosexual’ they aren’t allowed to hold leadership positions (e.g., patrol leader, etc.) and therefore, since that is a prerequisite, can’t become Eagle scouts.

Some local troops probably throw any boy who is ‘homosexual’ out (either officially or by permitting harassment till he leaves on his own). Some local troops almost certainly ignore this policy (and often those against atheists) and have no trouble with gay scouts and scouters but the scouts and scouters who are gay run the risk of being outed to those intent on enforcing policy (and kicked out if a scouter or prevented from becoming Eagle if a scout).

Note this is strictly a Boy Scouts of America policy. The Girl Scouts have a very different policy and Scouting organizations in other countries also have different policies.

Charles
June 7th, 2012 | LINK

At least a step in the right direction. And, as for Erp’s assessment I do hope that the Scouts really don’t put up with bullying of gay scouts, if they do that, it would be beyond the pale.

Bruce
June 7th, 2012 | LINK

The enforcement of the no-gay-scouts policy is already a local issue– I’m fairly certain that regional councils can’t force a troop to kick out a scout, and even if they could, they’d basically require the troop itself to provide the evidence. So there are troops which completely ignore that policy (like mine probably did with me, let’s be honest– I don’t imagine I hid it THAT well).

The no-gay-Scouters policy, on the other hand, is enforced by Councils, since adult leaders have to go through stringent licensing and oversight programs at the regional level. Which makes sense to some degree, since these are role models to kids who play a significant role in their lives.

So! I’m glad to see they’re looking at the policy and hope to see it rescinded like it deserves, but I don’t hold out much hope. Don’t have any illusions, though– there are certainly oodles of gay scouts AND scouters, some of them among the people considering the policy itself.

Nathaniel
June 7th, 2012 | LINK

Steve, if the policy change simply lets local troops do what they are already doing (i.e. decide who is fit to serve as an adult leader), I don’t see it conflicting with the monetary interests presented by these institutions. That is to say, since local troops are already letting (or not) gay adults serve as leaders, their is no harm in changing the policy to say that it is OK for them to do so. Since many areas have more than one troop, this could result in troops that forbid LGBT leaders (say, a church-affiliated troop) and troops that permit such (like a troop affiliated with a public service organization) and allow families to select an appropriate troop based on this criterion. It at least gives the illusion of being open, without condemning their primary sources of funding and troop support.

Erp
June 8th, 2012 | LINK

I may have spoke too soon, the oft hid (at least on the internet) policy has become unhidden again and seems to be a bit stricter than the last time it was publicly visible (youth can no longer be known to be gay even if not in leadership positions).
http://www.scouting.org/media/PressReleases/2012/20120607.aspx

@Bruce, National can certainly force a youth member out since membership in the BSA is something it controls. I doubt it would do so to a closeted gay youth, and, I doubt it would question scouts about their sexuality.

My own view is the BSA is going to sweep this into a committee and ignore it. The can see the trouble the Girl Scouts are in with the Catholic bishops over being welcoming of gays and having people who are pro-choice and pro-contraception availability around (even if they aren’t talking to the girls about choice or contraception [at least not without full consent from the parents]). The BSA is far more dependent on the Catholic Church (and the LDS) than the GSUSA is, and, I’m not sure that too many at the national level are even interested in changing.

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