The Boy Scouts of America have introduced a resolution to reverse a ban on openly gay members, while leaving a ban on openly homosexual troop leaders intact.
In an April 19 statement, the Boy Scouts said that “the Executive Committee, on behalf of the National Executive Board, wrote a resolution for consideration that would remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation.”
It added that the resolution would “maintain the current membership policy” of prohibiting openly gay men to serve as adult troop leaders.
The resolution will be receive a vote at the organization’s annual national council in late May.
The announcement of the resolution follows several months of policy review after the Boy Scouts lost funding from high-profile donors such as UPS over the current rules, which bar openly homosexual members. This policy was upheld as a constitutional expression of free speech by the Supreme Court in 2000.
In February, the organization decided to delay a vote on the policy, citing the complexity of the issue and need for continued dialogue and review.
Numerous pro-family groups, including Concerned Women for America, Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute and Family Research Council, have urged the scouts to continue their current policy, arguing that it helps to protect scouts from sexual abuse and aligns with the group’s founding morals.
In its statement, the Boy Scouts of America said it had undergone “the most comprehensive listening exercise in its history” to gather different viewpoints on the impacts of potentially changing its membership policy.
The organization explained that it had received “a wide range of input” from the scouting community and the American public. Underscoring the complexity of the issue, it said that it remains “extremely difficult to accurately quantify the potential impact of maintaining or changing the current policy.”
The Boy Scouts added that the resolution “reinforces that Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting.”
“America needs Scouting, and our policies must be based on what is in the best interest of our nation's children,” it said.
However, Eagle Scout John Stemberger warned that the resolution would create “a myriad of problems for how to manage and ensure the safety of the boys in the program.”
Stemberger is the founder of OnMyHonor.Net, a nationwide coalition of scouts, parents and leaders who support the Boy Scouts’ current policy.
“The current membership policy of Scouting, which is backed by more than 100 years of tradition, allows anyone to participate irrespective of sexual orientation, but only disallows the open and aggressive promotion of homosexuality and political agendas,” he explained in an April 19 statement.
Arguing that “parents should still have the final say on the issues of sexuality and politics,” he cautioned that a policy change “injects both those topics right into the program.”
He also warned that the resolution would open the door to lawsuits and is contrary to the convictions of the majority of faith denominations that make up most of the scouts’ chartering partner units.
“We urge the national council to vote against this resolution and uphold the time-tested membership policy of the Boy Scouts,” Stemberger said.
Tony Perkins, president of the D.C.-based Family Research Council, added to the criticism of the proposed resolution, saying it “would introduce open homosexuality into the ranks and eventually the leadership of Scouting.”
“This is totally unacceptable to the vast majority of Scouting parents who want to keep their exclusive right to discuss issues of sexuality with their sons,” he said in a statement Friday.
Perkins added that his organization will continue to “work with thousands of Scouting parents and boys from across the country who want to preserve the Scouts' timeless values that have served the Scouts and the nation well for 103 years.”
Tags: Boy Scouts of America