Boy Scouts to Continue Excluding Gay Scouts and Leaders

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Boy Scouts

July 17, 2012; Source: New York Times

Through a statement released Tuesday, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) announced that it will not change its membership policies, which means that the nonprofit organization will continue discriminating against children and youth who happen to be gay. The decision to keep the exclusionary policy was reached by a committee after a two-year process that had been spurred by increasing public pressure for BSA to openly welcome gay scouts and leaders.

According to the statement, the Boy Scouts gathered a “special committee of volunteers and professional leaders” which “included a diversity of perspectives and opinions” and came to the conclusion that it is in the best interest of the organization not to change their policy that excludes some young people.

“The Boy Scouts of America is one of the last cultural institutions to have discrimination as part of their policy,” Richard Ferraro, vice president for communications with the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, told The New York Times. Ferraro pointed out that the Girl Scouts, the Boys and Girls Clubs, the 4-H Clubs, and the U.S. military forbid discrimination based on sexual orientation. He is concerned that BSA’s stance sends a dangerous message to all children and can “contribute to bullying in schools.”

Clearly anticipating criticism, BSA Chief Scout Executive Bob Mazzuca said in the statement that “[W]e fully understand that no single policy will accommodate the many diverse views among our membership or society.”

What is hard to understand is how an organization that touts itself as being “the nation’s foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training, which helps young people be ‘Prepared. For Life,’” could perpetuate a policy that condones homophobia and bigotry. What kind of life are they preparing our children for? What values are they imparting? Certainly not the intrinsic worth and dignity of all human beings. Certainly not equality and tolerance. – Erwin de Leon

  • zasspa

    I’m not certain that I appreciate the fact that they get tax breaks that they then – legally, I understand – use to discriminate against folks like me who pay taxes. It’s not a perfect world, but I really feel like if we’re going to insist as a society on the right to treat lgbt people as second class citizens that since we don’t have access to things the rest of you do (Social Security inheritance rights and on down the line) we ought not be required to pay the same tax rates. If we don’t get the same benefits from the state and federal government we shouldn’t be required to pay in as much. Go ahead and discriminate against me, just don’t expect me to enjoy it or enjoy paying for it.

  • Traci

    I’m not appreciating the lack of balance in this story that you chose to put in your update today. It’s as if you assume that none of your readers have a different perspective. Boy Scouts is a private, Bible-based non-profit that is choosing to stick to its organizational focus despite fierce opposition. Is this working for them? This seems like a more appropriate story for a publication called Nonprofit Quarterly. I don’t care to read stories that seem to be designed to advance your editor’s ideological viewpoint.

  • Lorrie

    According to the extensively researched history of the Boy Scouts by Scoutmaster Jeff Snowden, the Boys Scouts is not bible-based as Traci reports. Here is a quote from his report, “The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) was founded by Chicago publisher William Boyce on February 8, 1910. At that time in the US, there were several other loosely structured outdoor-oriented youth organizations, some using the name “Boy Scout” and some using other names, and there were already a number of troops in existence using some variation of the British Scout program. Boyce’s key contribution was to organize the BSA as a business. He incorporated the organization (in Washington, DC, rather than Chicago), recruited key youth professionals (in particular from the YMCA) to design and operate the program, and he provided key funding for the infant organization.

    YMCA— To a great extent, the YMCA operated the BSA during its first year, particularly YMCA executive Edgar Robinson, who first suggested to Boyce that the YMCA was well positioned to provide structure and leadership to his fledgling Boy Scouts of America. Robinson set up the first BSA office next to his in Manhattan, and recruited YMCA official John Alexander to be the BSA’s first ‘managing secretary’.”

    To read more go to: – I am proud to say, I was part of the Boy Scout Explorers Post 5 in Raleigh, NC not long after girls were allowed to join the Explorers. Our leaders included a man of color, we had two girls, a dozen boys, and none of us judged others. The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law. The Oath: “On my honor I will do my best To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong,mentally awake, and morally straight.” And the law: “A Scout is:
    Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous,Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.”

    I believe I have kept my oath my entire life. I have raised four children and spent decades on nonprofit boards and in public service. Youth organizations should not exclude the children they are supposed to serve. Regardless of your skin color, handicap, gender, sexual orientation, the Boys Scouts have important skills for youth to learn. Perhaps they have forgotten their core purpose which is not to exclude, but to include youth with the larger vision of becoming ” a responsible, participating citizen and leader who is guided by the Scout Oath and Law.” Very sad commentary…

  • psever

    I appreciate the fact that as a general rule discriminating against others is bad. Things that we SEE for instance like skin color, gender, height, age, etc. Things we can’t see are another issue. In the working world we legally discriminate against those convicted of a crime working in positions of public trust. I’m sure if I had time to research this topic I’d find many more such examples but the fact that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) discriminates I think needs more fair reporting than was offered here.

    Young boys are extremely impressionable. While I do not sit on any board or policy making group within BSA this fact cannot be disputed. To say that BSA wanting to keep LGBT people out of scouting is bad needs further discussion. Since BSA allows 12-18 yr old boys we could also examine discrimination of 11 year-old (and younger) and 19 year-old (and older) boys, or girls for that matter. Nobody is looking at carrying the torch to push the envelope for the benefit of those other groups because we look at the scouting experience and the program content. It is appropriate for 12-18 year-old boys so we get no opposition (at this moment) to excluding persons in those groups.

    I’m not here to say LGBT is right or wrong but as the parent of two boy scouts I do not want sex or sexual orientation as a topic of discussion around the campfire with s’mores.

    A boy might very well suspect he is LGBT but not acted out. A boy might suspect he’s heterosexual but not acted out. For the same reason BSA discriminates against girls it discriminates against LGBT boys. There are just too many opportunities for boys to be in close proximity to each other without direct adult supervision. While adults supervise camping trips, adults cannot supervise all sleeping arrangements.

    I teach my children that sex outside of marriage is wrong, whether it is heterosexual, homosexual, consensual or non-consensual. I believe in the natural law that marriage was intended by the Creator to consist of a union between one man and one woman for two purposes, the first is a uniting aspect and the second as the procreative aspect and that any union not including both aspects violates the very nature of the sex act.

    Because there is plenty of sin in the world to go around, I do not care to judge nor do I care to teach my clildren to judge others for any reason, this includes LGBT people. I believe God made each person perfect in his image and that he did so lovingly. I also think God made us differently and those with same-sex attraction are not sinful in their very creation. God will judge each of us when we leave this world. I struggle each day to be the best person I can, I don’t care to comment on how any other person is doing. I cannot however condone a general pattern of conduct which violates the natural law given to us by the Creator.