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LGBT activists (mostly) applaud, conservative groups deplore Boy Scouts decision allowing gay youths

boyscoutsHere are various public reactions to the Boy Scouts decision on Thursday to allow gay scouts, but not adult gay leaders:

HRC, Human Rights Campaign:

WASHINGTON – In a historic move, 1,400 leaders from the nation’s local Boy Scouts of America Councils gave the green light to equality for gay Scouts, voting to end the organization’s long standing ban on gay youth.  Unfortunately the new policy does not go far enough, leaving adult Eagle Scouts, scout leaders, and parents behind.  The resolution passed today reads in part, “no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.”

“Today is a historic day for Boy Scouts across the country who want to be a part of this great American institution,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin.  “But the new policy doesn’t go far enough.  Parents and adults of good moral character, regardless of sexual orientation, should be able to volunteer their time to mentor the next generation of Americans.”

“The Boy Scouts of America can do better,” said Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout and Executive Director of Scouts for Equality.  “We welcome the news that the ban on gay Scouts is history, but our work isn’t over until we honor the Scout Law by making this American institution open and affirming to all.”

Unanswered in the new policy is the issue of employment discrimination by BSA.  Currently, the BSA job application for “professional commission” explicitly says gays need not apply. The application, which comes from the BSA’s national office and appears to be in use across the country, reads:  "The Boy Scouts of America will not employ atheists, agnostics, known or avowed homosexuals.” The full application can be viewed here.

Several major mental health organizations support lifting the anti-gay ban completely, including for Scout leaders and other adults.  Earlier this year, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) sent a letter to the Boy Scouts of America declaring, in part, “[W]e call on you to end the ban for the betterment of all young men.  We urge you to recognize the importance of Scouts for all boys and the critical need for volunteer leaders, and end discrimination towards adult leaders based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”  For more than a decade, the American Medical Association has called the ban on gay Scouts potentially psychologically traumatizing.

In April 2012, Ohio mom Jennifer Tyrrell launched a Change.org petition calling on the Boy Scouts of America to end its national ban on gay scouts, parents, and scout leaders after she was ousted as her son's den leader because she is gay. She sparked a campaign led by GLAAD and Scouts for Equality to advocate for an inclusive BSA, which has resulted in several corporate sponsors withholding funds as well as hundreds of celebrities, elected officials, scouts and religious institutions speaking out against the ban. In February of this year, GLAAD and Scouts for Equality delivered more than 1.4 million Change.org signatures to BSA headquarters with gay scouts and scouting families impacted by the ban.

Family Research Council:

GRAPEVINE, TX - Family Research Council (FRC) expressed deep disappointment at the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) for changing their long-standing position today on membership regarding open homosexuality within the Scouts.

Family Research Council President Tony Perkins made the following comments:

"Sadly, the Boy Scouts' legacy of producing great leaders has become yet another casualty of moral compromise. Unfortunately, Boy Scout delegates capitulated to strong-arm tactics and abandoned the timeless values that have served the organization well for more than 100 years.

"The delegates succumbed to a concerted and manipulative effort by the national BSA leadership despite the BSA's own survey showing 61 percent of its members in opposition to changing the policy.

"The Boy Scouts has for decades been a force for moral integrity and leadership in the United States. BSA councils, Scouting parents, and leaders of the faith-based organizations that charter over two-thirds of the packs and troops, must now decide how to respond to this moral compromise. Many will separate from the organization so that they can continue to foster character among boys and respect the right of parents to discuss issues of sexuality with their sons.

"It is clear that the current BSA leadership will bend with the winds of popular culture, and the whims of liberal special interest groups. There is little doubt that God will soon be ushered out of scouting. Now is the time for new leadership. In the meantime, we will stand with those BSA Councils who will now act to protect boys from a new policy that only creates moral confusion and disrespects the views of the vast majority of Scouting parents," concluded Perkins.

Family Equality Council:

Washington, DC - (May 23, 2013) - Family Equality Council, the national organization that connects, supports and represents the three million parents in our country who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) and their six million children today issued the following statement following a decision by the Boy Scouts of America to end their long-standing ban on gay youth, but continue to ban gay leaders including parents.
"Every Boy Scout, on their honor, first pledges to do their best,” said Family Equality Council Spokesman Steve Majors.  “This is a step in the right direction, but it’s not the best the Boy Scouts can do.  The Boy Scouts of America have sent a hurtful message to Scouts with LGBT parents that their moms and dads are not welcome as leaders alongside other parents.  As a father of two girl scouts and the proud partner of an Eagle Scout, I know that Scouting has a long tradition of being a family activity and the Boy Scouts should be open to all our families.”
“Let’s also not forget this decision also affects gay Scouts who will be prevented from serving as adult leaders,” added Majors.  “There is nothing honorable about discriminating against Scouts after they reach a certain age.  Family Equality Council remains proud of the work that Zach Wahls, our Outspoken Generation co-chair, and parents like Jennifer Tyrrell have done to change the hearts and minds of the Boy Scouts on this issue. We look forward to the day when Scouting becomes an institution equally open to all Americans.”

Florida Family Equality Council:

Grapevine, TX – Following the vote today by the Boy Scouts of America’s voting delegates to pass the resolution allowing “open and avowed homosexuality” in the Boy Scouts, John Stemberger, Founder of OnMyHonor.Net, a coalition of members of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) including parents, Scoutmasters, Eagle Scouts and other Scouting leaders who affirm Scouting’s timeless values, made the following statement:

“It is with great sadness and deep disappointment that we recognize that on this day that the most influential youth program in America has turned a tragic corner in its history which will eventually completely transform it into an unprincipled and risky proposition for parents. It is truly a sad day for scouting.

“The Boy Scouts of America has a logo that bears the phrase ‘Timeless Values.’   Today, the BSA can no longer use this phrase in good faith because it has demonstrated by its actions that the organization’s values are not timeless, and instead they are governed by changing tides of polls, politics and public opinion.

“The saddest part of today’s decision is what the organization is teaching our children and young people in the program. 

“The BSA is teaching our kids that when your values become unpopular, just change them.

The BSA is teaching our kids when your convictions are challenged, just cave to peer pressure

The BSA is teaching our kids that public opinion polls are more important than principles.

Today, the BSA is teaching our kids that you should not stand up for what is right instead you should stand up for what is popular.

“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 Scout Law.”

“Today the mission of the BSA has been radically changed by virtue of its actions and new direction.

“BSA is teaching our kids through its new mission that we don’t make ethical and moral choices through the values of the Scout Oath and Scout Law but we make them like a rank Washington DC politician, by putting your finger in the air and seeing which way the wind is blowing or by looking at the latest polling results.

“What kind of a message are we sending to young people about being brave when its top adult leaders don’t even have the courage to stand up to the peer pressure of their own adult peers when the bullies in Washington DC, Hollywood or even some of their own renegade councils start pressuring and harassing them? 
“As for the thousands of scouting families that have been supporting and following our movement we realize each and every family has a very difficult decision to make.  We respect the right for each parent and family to decide whether they will continue their membership in the Boy Scouts of American or not.

“Many, like me and my family cannot continue to support an organization who has started a downward spiral and being more concerned with the intolerant demands of activists while compromising the safety and security of the young people they serve.  In July of last year the BSA said after a two year study from 2010 to 2012 the eleven member task force unanimously concluded that their existing policy on this issue was “the absolute best policy for the Boy Scouts of American.”  Suddenly, less than a year later, that is abruptly reversed.

“We had hoped to keep sex and politics out of scouting and we grieve for those young boys who will not have the wonderful tradition and experience that so many of us have had in scouting.

"However, this is also a day to look to the future. I am pleased to announce that On My Honor, along with other likeminded organizations, parents and BSA members, are announcing a coalition meeting that will take place next month Louisville, Kentucky to discuss the creation of a new character development organization for boys. It is an invitation-only meeting, however, your voice is important to us.  We will host and facilitate a national coalition meeting of former BSA parents and other youth leaders who wish to return to truly timeless values that made this organization great.  We welcome your comments as we create our agenda. For more information, contact us at Contact@OnMyHonor.Net

We grieve today, not because we are faced with leaving scouting, but because Boy Scouts of America has left us. Its leadership has turned its back on 103 years of abiding by its mission to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices.  Instead, it is embarking on a pathway of social experimentation that we believe will place at risk the very youth the organization is entrusted to serve, while rendering as hollow the tenets of the Scout Oath.  Many of us find that unacceptable, and we have a desire to explore how we might serve families and young people at the highest standard originally intended by scouting’s founder, Robert Baden-Powell.

Faith in America:

Scouts to gay youth: You are NOT morally unfit

Faith In America today applauded Thursday's decision by Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to end its years of justifying and promoting religion-based bigotry's harm toward gay youth.

Over 61 percent of Scouting's National Council of 1,232 delegates from across the country voted Thursday to lift the BSA's ban on gay youth.

"Boy Scouts of America, one the largest youth groups in America, yesterday sent a very loud and clear message to gay youth – you will no longer be deemed as morally unfit," said Brent Childers, executive director of Faith In America. "We would like to thank each and every one of the delegates who voted Thursday to uplift all youth in America as the cherished and deserving young individuals that they truly are."

Childers said the importance of the vote cannot be overstated considering it was staunchly opposed by certain anti-gay Christian groups and organizations.

"It is yet further evidence that society is awakening to the understanding that religion-based bigotry's harm to gay and lesbian individuals, especially youth, can no longer be accepted, justified or promoted as having moral or religious value," Childers said.

"It is hard to imagine that any organization that promotes religious and moral ideals would be opposed to ending such harm yet there are those who are threatening to pull their support of the Boy Scouts of America because of yesterday's vote. More and more Americans, especially today's youth, understand that promoting such division and strife is not a religious ideal. They also certainly understand that there is nothing morally straight about causing emotional, psychological and physical harm to innocent young lives."

While Faith In America is disappointed the BSA didn't end its ban on allowing gay adults to serve as leaders, Childers said the apparent contradiction in BSA policy will not stand.

"When gay adults are serving very honorably as leaders in all areas of our communities, from schools and churches to the military and elected office, BSA soon will have to answer why not here. We believe it will become apparent that the answer to that question – which is prejudice, discrimination, stigma and hostility – is antithetical to the very principles BSA asks its youth to stand upon."

The Mormon Church:

SALT LAKE CITY — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints responded today to the Boy Scouts of America vote on its membership policy with the following statement:

For the past 100 years, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has enjoyed a strong relationship with Boy Scouts of America, based on our mutual interest in helping boys and young men understand and live their duty to God and develop upright moral behavior. As the Church moves forward in its association with the Boy Scouts of America, Church leaders will continue to seek the most effective ways to address the diverse needs of young people in the United States and throughout the world.

The Church’s long-established policy for participation in activities is stated in the basic instructional handbook used by lay leaders of the Church: “young men … who agree to abide by Church standards” are “welcomed warmly and encouraged to participate” (Handbook 2: Administering the Church [2010], 8.17.3). This policy applies to Church-sponsored Scout units. Sexual orientation has not previously been—and is not now—a disqualifying factor for boys who want to join Latter-day Saint Scout troops. Willingness to abide by standards of behavior continues to be our compelling interest.

These standards are outlined in the booklet For the Strength of Youth and include abstinence from sexual relationships. We remain firmly committed to upholding these standards and to protecting and strengthening boys and young men.

The Church appreciates BSA’s reaffirmation of its commitment to “duty to God,” which includes service to others and moral behavior—central principles of our teaching to young men. As in the past, the Church will work with BSA to harmonize what Scouting has to offer with the varying needs of our young men. We trust that BSA will implement and administer the approved policy in an appropriate and effective manner.  

A letter signed by the First Presidency of the Church is being sent to all Latter-day Saint congregation leaders throughout the United States. The letter will include the reaffirmation of Church policies and standards referenced in today's public statement.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:

WASHINGTON, May 23 — The Boy Scouts of America national council today voted to lift the ban on openly gay Scouts while retaining the ban on gay adults serving in leadership positions.

Statement by Rea Carey, Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

“This vote marks a monumental step forward for the Boy Scouts of America. We are thrilled for the gay youth who will no longer be turned away from scouting simply because of who they are. This milestone has been years in the making, and we thank all those who have fought so hard to end this grave injustice against our young people.
“As we celebrate this moment, we know the work isn’t complete. The Boy Scouts of America still discriminates against qualified adults who are denied the opportunity to participate in leadership positions because they are gay. Fairness is a fundamental American principle — it’s not to be sliced, diced, divvied up and dictated by prejudice. By retaining the discriminatory ban on gay adults, the Boy Scouts of America has signaled that this core value is up for grabs, that a level playing field remains out of reach, and that it’s still okay to target others for second-class treatment.
“Boy Scouts' leadership should stop clinging to a policy of exclusion and scrap the ban, once and for all. It’s long past time for a fully inclusive Boy Scouts of America.”

Equality Florida:

No Merit Badge for Courage: National Boy Scouts of America Continues to Discriminate Against Adult Leaders

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA), one of the country’s largest youth development organizations, today did away with the organization’s national policy that banned LGBT scouts, but continued their ban on LGBT scout leaders.

Under increasing pressure from within its leadership and from financial sponsors who found the ban indefensible the BSA has been backing away slowly from its anti-gay policy.

"While we applaud the fact that today's vote will open the door for gay youth to participate openly and honestly in the BSA, it fails to meet the Scouts' own standard of courage and leadership,” said Brian Winfield, Managing Director of Equality Florida.

Today's policy change by the Boy Scouts of America means that three million same-sex parents will continue to be excluded from participating as scout leaders " Winfield said. “Perhaps the BSA should bestow half a merit badge on itself for having the courage to ‘almost’ do the right thing. Discrimination is offensive and wrong whether it is dictated locally or nationally.”

BSA officials announced the results of the vote at the Scouts’ national meeting in Grapevine, TX.

In the weeks before the decision, many Eagle Scouts returned their hard-earned medals to protest the Scouts' policy of excluding gays.


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