The BSA’s Gay Problem

“Ross E. Armstrong has satisfactorily completed the requirements and is hereby certified as an Eagle Scout by the Boy Scouts of America” Boy Scouts of America July 20, 2000. (Eagle Scout)

“Ross E. Armstrong is awarded the Vigil Honor in recognition of distinguished contributions to Scouting and the Order, through exceptional service, personal commitment, and unselfish interest in the welfare of others, beyond immediate responsibilities in the Order of the Arrow, as a member of Tannu Lodge of the Nevada Area Council.” Boy Scouts of America  June 20, 2002. (Vigil Honor)

“Order of the Arrow, Boy Scouts of America present Ross E. Armstrong its highest award for distinguished service” Boy Scouts of America July 30, 2006. (Distinguished Service Award)

“Ross E. Armstrong has moral beliefs and values are, in at least on important respect, contradictory to those of Scouting”  and “Ross E. Armstrong does not posses the moral…qualities deemed necessary…for leadership.” Boy Scouts of America February 28, 2000. (BSA v. Dale)

As you have probably already realized.  One of the above is different from the others.  However, there is another difference between the first three and last one.  The first three statements are based on the other individuals observing my character, leadership, and basic commitment to the ideals of the Boy Scouts of America; the last statement is based on my genetic pre-disposition to fall in love with men rather than women.  You would be hard pressed to find an individual who knows me through Scouting to agree with the last set of statements; if there is one out there, I would like to hear from you.  I think my influence on Scouts both older and younger was positive.

Let’s quickly establish that the argument that homosexuality has nothing to do with Scouting’s  values.  In the famous case the Boy Scouts argued gays weren’t “morally straight” or “clean”.   According to the Boy Scout Handbook I used to get all the way to Eagle (10th Edition):

“and morally straight. To be a person of strong character, guide your life with honesty, purity, and justice.  Respect and defend the rights of all people.  Your relationships 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” p.551

and

“A Scout is Clean. A Scout keeps his body and mind fit and clean.  He chooses the company of those who live by these same ideals.  He helps keep his home and community clean.” p.561

I don’t see anything that says “you must be straight”.  Do you?  The lack of honesty on the BSA’s part in BSA v. Dale can be argued about over and over again.  The Supreme Court made its decision and that is that.  But just because the Supreme Court says the policy is legal doesn’t mean it is healthy for the organization.  For a number of reasons, I argue it is not.

The BSA’s policy not allowing homosexuals to be members is the largest weight pulling down on the future progress of the Boy Scouts of America.  In order to avoid lawsuits, the Boy Scouts have decided to move its National Jamborees from military bases near Washington DC to a private property.  All across the country, the BSA struggles to find meeting places in public places due to ever increases non-discrimination laws.  Avoiding lawsuits is one thing, but when America is moving in a direction of more comprehensive equal rights to the point that the Boy Scouts are classified as an organization that embraces discrimination and therefore should not be able to use facilities paid for by the taxpayers, the organization is in real danger of being left behind.  Segments of the population view the BSA in such a negative light because of their policy on homosexuals that they would rather not allow their children to be exposed to the program.  Loss of public presence and loss of potential membership will greatly hinder the future of the Boy Scouts of America.

The United States Military in now committed to repealing the ban on allowing openly gay Americans to serve in the armed forces.  Looking to the future, is the Boy Scouts of America truly prepared to tell Generals and Admirals that they are unfit to serve as Scoutmasters because of who they are biologically designed to fall in love with?  Do we really soon want to say that the U.S. Military is not “good enough” for the Boy Scouts of America?

The policy will also lead the BSA into picking favored religions.  There are plenty of religions that actually believe we are all God’s children and therefore gays are ok in the eyes of the lord.  The trend is in the direction of more and more religions embracing humanity over discriminating based on sexuality.  The inability of the BSA to guarantee that charter partners can select the leaders for their Units is a barrier to an increased number of Scouting Units across the country.  The BSA doesn’t have to force gay leaders into each troop, it should simply allow charter partners to decide for themselves if a gay man or woman can by “morally straight” and “clean”.

Finally, the purging of qualified leaders can not do any organization well.  There are many men who have the same qualifications that I quoted at the beginning of this article who are no longer involved because of who they are wired to love.  Expertise in Scouting skills and leadership and in-depth understanding of where the program has been and how it can continue into the future is  lost because of the BSA’s policy.  That’s why I’d like to ask anyone who reads this who has been a Scout and who happens to be gay to list the honors and awards, the badges of moral straightness and cleanliness that have been bestowed upon you by the Boy Scouts of America and then list the date you came to terms (if you have) with the thought of no longer being involved simply because you wanted to be who you are.

I’ll go first…

35 thoughts on “The BSA’s Gay Problem

  1. Arrow of Light, Eagle Scout, Vigil Honor, Founders Award, District Award of Merit, Distinguished Service Award, National Order of the Arrow Committee (Member), Western Region Order of the Arrow Committee (Member), Lodge Chief, Senior Patrol Leader, Troop Committee Chairman, Section Chief, Assistant Scoutmaster, Region Chief.

    Unfit for the BSA: 2008.

  2. I have an extensive background and history with Scouting. I feel that I wouldn’t be the man I am today if it wasn’t for my experiences in the organization. But I have always found it hard to accept the one policy that I wholeheartedly disagree with. All of the principles and morals I learned as a Scout tell me that it’s wrong to turn away homosexual Scouters. I’ve seen too many amazing friends shunned because of their sexual orientation. Ross Armstrong is the honestly one of the most incredible and inspirational people I have ever met. He served as one of Scoutings finest youth leaders and positively influenced young men around the nation and world. Is he really unfit to lead? I know that a large majority of my friends Scouting friends agree with me. It’s time to speak out.

    I applaud you Ross, and I will always stand with you.

  3. I love you Ross, and consider you to be one of my closest friends. I will always support you (no matter you decide to fall in love) and the Boy Scouts should give you that same respect that you have given them your entire life.

    Also, I heard on the radio this morning that only 1 out of every 100 guys who enter the Scouts end up making it to the Eagle Scout ranking.

  4. When I first started my ‘formal training’ in the OA, I met a wonderful young man who was my table guide. Ross Armstrong is inspirational, articulate, compassionate and intelligent. I was eager to absorb all he had to share in that process. I despise the ‘tolerated bigotry’ that exists in the BSA. I am tired of hearing the ‘private organization’ argument which clearly would not stand if the issue were race based or economic based or any other basis. I stand in complete opposition to the BSA’s policies of excluding gays from the program. Scouting is a fantastic program that should be available to all who benefit from it. Inappropriate sexual conduct is criminal regardless of gender and should be treated as such. Some of the World’s greatest leaders both civic and military are and have been gay. A person’s sexuality has absolutely nothing to do with their ability to positively influence young people to be great citizens and leaders. In recent years the BSA has perverted their oath relating ‘morally straight’ to sexuality. This is not what Lord Baden-Powell intended. At scoutings origins this phrase which is of vital importance to the oath directs us to stand fast to our morals. Stand up for what is right and condemn that which is not right. As such I condemn the BSA’s current policy on gay individuals as scouts and scouters. I am a proud member of my local United Church of Christ congregation and I walk in support of my church in the annual Gay Pride Parade and Volunteer at the Phoenix Gay Pride festival. I will continue to do so and if that ever means an end to my scouting activities then so be it. The local gay youth support group 1n10 is always looking for quality adult volunteer leaders. I will not be silent. I stand beside Ross and all of my scouting brothers and sisters gay, straight, bi, or whatever label they choose to adopt. Ross you are not alone my friend. I invite you to take a look at this story regarding our scout executive’s statement on this horrendous policy that we find ourselves embroiled with. http://outqnews.wordpress.com/2010/01/07/boy-scouts-head-hints-at-gay-policy-change/#more-435

  5. Arrow of Light, Eagle Scout, Vigil Honor, Founders Award, OA National Distinguished Service Award, Section Chief, Lodge Chief, Summer Camp Program Director, National Aquatics Director, 10 years of summer camp staffing, Senior Patrol Leader, Assistant Scoutmaster, Associate Section Adviser, Council Risk Management Committee Member.

    Unfit for the BSA: 2007.

  6. Much of the same. As long as my sexuality is left out of the mix, I am a perfect leader in the eyes of the scouting program. Eagle scout, great youth leader in my troop, Chapter Chief, Lodge & Section Officer, Vigil and Founder’s award recipient, but in the end, the fact that I am gay trumps all of the above.

  7. When I found out that my big brother is gay the only thing that upset me was the thought of all of the people who will not see what an incredible person he is simply because he loves men. It breaks my heart to know that there are people out there who would look past his brilliance, huge heart and kindness and only point out his homosexuality. It is even worse to know that an organization he was so passionate about and put some much work into could turn its back on him because of a deeply personal part of his life. I love you big brother and I admire the courage with which you fight this daily battle.

  8. Personally, I have my own views as to the relative value of the instruction of children in Scripture history within the walls of the Sunday-school, and the value of Nature study and the practice of religion in the open air…

    …but I will not impose my personal views upon others.

    B-P
    January, 1912

  9. Arrow of Light, Senior Patrol Leader, Eagle Scout, Vigil Honor, Founders Award, Lodge Chief, Wiatava Lodge Arrowman of the Year, 9 years of summer camp staffing, OA Trail Crew Foreman.

    Unfit for the BSA: 2006.

  10. Eagle Scout, Lodge Chief, Section Chief, Vigil Honor, Arrow of Light, District Award of Merit, Venturing Youth Leadership Award, 6 years on Camp Staff, National Camp School Trainer, NLS Trainer, Assistant Scoutmaster, ScoutReach Leader, District Committee Member, Local Council Executive Board Member, Cub Staff…and 13 years of dedicated, unwavering service in leadership.

    Unfit for the BSA: 2010

  11. Having spent 7 years as a BSA employee and Professional I can say that this isn’t as much about hiding behind BSA v Dale or angering the LDS Chartered Partners as it seems. That is the easy, popular explanation. The issue really centers around the BSA’s internal research…the focus groups and polls. Every time they ask the parents of Scouts, they consistently find that 75% or more support the current stance. It’s a case of “not my son’s Scoutmaster”. And furthermore, the BSA knows through polling that they would lose up to 40% of their membership by changing the rules. This is simple economics. Why would you impose something that your customers simply don’t want? That would be poor customer service. The BSA is focused on “those we serve”…and those people overwhelmingly don’t want openly gay leaders. Call them closed-minded or whatever, but the BSA is customer-focused on this one. Sorry if you disagree personally (and I have known many, many talented people through the OA who are gay as well and am frustrated that the best and brightest are excluded as leaders) but this one is settled through the membership itself.

  12. Joseph -

    Of course your find 75% of current Scouting parents support the policy, you’ve made anyone who would disagree feel unwelcome in the organization. And wouldn’t the parents get to choose a Unit that fits them best? Those who can’t handle a gay Scoutmaster don’t have to join that Unit.

  13. I believe that you represent what the scouting program whats to create in every participant. Because of the BSA’s current policies we will all suffer without your presents. Its clear reading through all your responses, you make positive impacts in peoples lives, I would probably not be involved in scouting if it wasn’t for you showing me what the scouting program can really be. I have you to think for my countless opportunities both in Scouting and out.
    Ross, you have done so much for me and people around you, I am glad you have the courage and influence to make people think about this program we all love.
    I am proud today and always to call you my Brother.

  14. Senior Patrol Leader, Assistant Scoutmaster, Eagle Scout, Chapter Chief, Lodge Vice Chief, Lodge Chief, Section Vice Chief, OA Founders Award recipient, OA Vigil Honor, 7 time NLS Trainer, 3 years on summer camp staff.

    Thank you Ross for all that you have done and the courage you have shown.

  15. Very strong points, Ross.

    My father and I both have tremendous experience working through the organization in Georgia. Of the 18 boys I’ve seen obtain Eagle in my troop since I started there, at least 5 happened to be gay, myself included.

    The adventures and experiences that my father and I shared through scouting are something I would hate for my son to miss out on in the future. As our nation moves towards accepting families with two moms or two dads, it is essential for the BSA to welcome the children of these new families, as well as the parents as the fantastic volunteers who make the organization work as it does.

    And the BSA can rest assured: no one will force them to create a “fashion design” merit badge.

  16. There is all of this talk about what Scouting families wan’t, but this shouldn’t be an argument when it comes to the issue of what is right and just. As a black American, I can recognize that many of the rights (yes, rights, like the “Full Faith and Credit Clause” dealing with marriage) and privileges that have been denied to gay Americans mirror some of the same during the American Civil Rights Movement. This is just one of those issues.

    I, like Lt. Dan Choi, one of the leaders in the fight against Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, think that these gay rights issues will be ones that, when we look back, we will wonder why didn’t support them earlier.

    I have too many friends that this policy has both affected and could potentially affect, and they also happen to be some of the BEST Scouts that our organization has. Like others, I feel that this issue does not just affect gays in Scouting, but also their straight allies as well as those who don’t support gay rights and justice.

    It is ironic that my childhood Scout book describes being morally straight as accepting and recognizing people’s views who do not fit into one’s own.

    As the best organization in the world, they’ve got to make the change.

  17. Joseph, you can engineer poll results pretty simply — it’s all in how you word the questions. Without knowing the specific question asked, it’s hard to discern how seriously one should take “75%”, especially when the organization commissioning the poll has an interest in a particular result.

  18. Eagle Scout, Vigil Honor, Section Adviser, Associate Section Adviser, Associate Lodge Adviser, Scoutmaster, Assistant Scoutmaster, Committee Member, AC5 Staff. Still Serving, unfit for leadership by some, revered for leadership by most.

  19. Eagle Scout (2008), Vigil (2007), Section Secretary(2007), Section Vice-Chief (2008), Den Chief Service Award (2006), Summer camp staff for 5yrs, Council Training staff for 2yrs, Lodge Chief for 3yrs, Assisstant Scoutmaster for 2yrs, Senior Patrol Leader, Arrow of Light, Founder’s Award, NLS Staff, WLE Chairman, NCLS Chief’s Corp Staff,…if it wasn’t for this policy I’d still be in actively serving as a leader and mentor to many.

  20. Arrow of Light, Eagle Scout, Brotherhood Member-OA, Member-Tribe of NBZ, Leader of National Honor Patrol Award recipient, Den Chief Service Award recipient, BSA Best Award recipient for Service to my Troop, District OA Ceremonies Team Member, District Top Seller-Popcorn Sales

    Unfit for the BSA: 2006

  21. Ross: I have always respected you, and, along with many posted in this thread (and others who have not) am proud to call you a friend and brother in the OA. I certainly applaud you for being honest with and about yourself, and for not feeling compelled to hide who you are.

    I will, however, submit both a thought on your actions and those of others, and on the future of the BSA’s policy.

    Some of the names above (specifically Chris’) are people who have had a profound and positive effect on my career in Scouting and my development as a person. You, Ross, are someone who I helped inspire from our time together at Philmont and as friends after. I’d be proud to call you a friend. While I appreciate the pain that it would bring you and others to maintain membership in an organization like the BSA, I wonder if staying is the “lesser of two evils.” You and I both know many gay men in Scouting who maintain membership and have an enormously positive impact on Scouts of all ages. It’s likely that many of them provide significant and silent inspiration to gay Scouts struggling with figuring out who they are in a world that doesn’t always accept them. I wonder if perhaps you’d have a more positive effect maintaining your membership then resigning in protest (that is, of course, speculation on my part. I don’t know the details of your leaving the BSA). If you were forced out (which makes me sad), my comment hold true to those to have chosen to leave. It’s a shitty situation either way, but I firmly believe staying involved is the lesser of two evils.

    For the future of the organization: the “morality” piece of the Scout Law is not something that should be decided by the national BSA organization. As Ryan Meacham noted in another of your posts, the BSA is built on its relationships with chartered organizations. The more that the BSA can remove itself from big picture moral discussion and leave those items between a unit and its chartered organization, the stronger the organization will be. I know that’s not the answer the most progressive people want to hear (that some units will always discriminate against gays and atheists), but it’s the solution that makes the organization strongest. It reflects our incredible diversity (lets face it, growing up in Scouting in Boston was different for me than doing so in Utah was for Ryan) as an organization, and the reality that views of wrong and right will always vary by community. A strong BSA in the future is one that embraces that diversity of membership and allows a Jewish Synagogue to support a unit in line with its ideals and a Unitarian Church to support a unit in line with its own. Parents will simply (as I think they do know) realize that where a troop meets will inform its moral compass.

    Nothing would make me happier than to wake up in a world tomorrow where people see past a small piece of who you are and recognize the things that are really are different between you and me (like how much more awesome I am). That world though isn’t coming any time soon. Instead, I firmly believe we should focus on finding the happy medium that allows the BSA to exist in both.

  22. Arrow of Light, Life Scout, Brotherhood OA member, Webelos Adventure Camp staff, Den Leader, Patrol Leader, OA Troop Rep, Camporee Staff, Day Camp(s) staff

  23. Ed –

    To suggest that to continue to lie about who I am would be the lesser of two evils flies in the face of not only being Trustworthy but also being Morally Straight as defined in the Scout Handbook. In addition, by keeping it quiet, I would be sending the message to young men that their sexuality should be kept in the shadows. To do would endorse behavior that has led to too many suicides, sexual assaults, and even murders. I have come to the point where endorsing that message is no longer something I am willing to do.

    You are right in one respect. Because I’ve decided to be honest, the decision makers will likely see this post may seem like just another homo upset he can’t get into the program. It will only be when the straight members of the BSA who disagree with the policy push to get it changed, will the contents of this article gain any traction.

    Thank you for your contribution to the discussion.

  24. I’ve been lucky enough in this life, Ross, that I’ve never had to struggle with the kind of moral conflict you are now. I can’t imagine the difficulty of the decisions you’ve had to make, but encouraged to see the support you have around you.

    I guess for me there’s always been a difference between being who we are and advertising that to the world. I happen to be straight, but I doubt very many Scouts (aside from those who know me a friends first) could name my girlfriend, or offer any evidence of my heterosexuality. I don’t broadcast who I am in Scouting, not because it’s appropriate or inappropriate, but because it’s typically not relevant. While I never would encourage you or others to actively lie, I think removing yourselves from the program does more harm than good.

    Please don’t take this as passing judgement. As I mentioned, I’ve never had to struggle with a decision like yours, so I can not pretend to understand all the different factors you had to weigh. Nor do I know, as I said originally, whether your departure was by your choice or by edict. Either way: wish you the best and look forward to the time you and I (and Chris) can return to Philmont.

  25. Arrow of Light, Eagle Scout, Exploring Gold Award, Exploring President, Exploring Search & Rescue, Vigil Honor, Chapter Officer, Lodge Officer, Lodge Chief, Assistant Scoutmaster, CVC, Section Officer, Section Chief, 10 years of summer camp staffing.

    Unfit for the BSA: 2000.

  26. I was Paul Kelley’s Scoutmaster. He was the one of the best Scouts that I have ever had the pleasure of working with in 20 years as an adult leader. I watched him get dumped from the program that he spent most of his life honoring—because BSA did not have the fortitude to stand up to a lame, wrong policy. Whether the policy is the result of a fear that the Catholics, or Latter Day Saints, or whomever, will leave the program is immaterial–it is gutless. One obvious way out for the leadership is to simply re-affirm that the Chartered Organization is the entity to decide who their membership consists of. Then the non-diversity units sponsored by these churches can dis-allow whom they wish–they already do this with the leaders. Progressive, forward-thinking Chartering groups could then do what BSA preaches but does not practice—honor diversity. When I co-presented the Honoring Diversity segment at the first Wood Badge for the Twentieth Century course, my main regret is that I did not fully unload on the hypocritical mess that says we honor diversity, yet remove those that SOME disagree with. Yet another example of BSA, Inc not having any guts.

  27. Ed, your comments make me wonder if it as obvious to those in the majority just how often wives, girlfriends, and girls in general are talked about in Scouting. You and I haven’t caught up in years, but I could tell you your girlfriend’s name, just as I could tell you whether anyone we’ve worked with is married. People talk a lot about their relationships — it comes up in conversation constantly, and there’s nothing wrong with it. Scouting, however, creates an environment where gay people cannot reciprocate in conversations with their peers. There are people at the highest levels of our organization that have long-term same-sex partners with whom they own houses and share their lives. I even know one who has adopted a child! Imagine having to keep those important people a secret, and the message that would send to your family or anyone who may know about them. How close could you ever really be to a Scouter who can’t be honest with you about the most important people in his life? It’s not that he has to keep it private (privacy implies the information could be shared), it has to be secret. I believe wherever there are secrets, there is shame. When you’re a good person, doing good in the world, life’s too short for shame.

  28. How God must laugh at the little differences that we men set up amongst ourselves under the camouflage of religion, politics, patriotism or class, to the neglect of the greater tie: that of Brotherhood in the Human Family!

    B-P
    Jamboree, 1929

    Our patriotism should be of the wider, nobler kind
    which recognises justice and reasonableness in the claims of
    others and which leads our country into comradeship with,
    and recognition of, the other nations of the world.

    B-P
    Rovering to Success, 1922

  29. I always have had the highest respect for you and appreciation of you for the positive effect you’ve had on my sons. As the daughter of a Silver Beaver recipient and a mother of two Eagle Scouts, I’ve gritted my teeth and supported the BSA, although I don’t agree with their policies on gays or atheists. I’m (finally) ready to take a stand. The BSA is such a tremendous organization and I’m sad that I’ve only ben able to tsk tsk tsk about their unfair policies that are being dictated, in large part by the LDS church. Consider me on board.

  30. Ross,

    You are spot on with your observations and comments here and obviously understand the meaning of “A Scout is Brave”

    We, as an organization, have the opportunity to choose to do the right thing with this issue during our 100th year of service to the youth of our country. We, as an organization, do a great disservice to those youth when we promote a policy that flies in the face of a host of research literature showing the detrimental effects of discrimination and the poor social modeling we exhibit by treating others as “morally” inferior based on dispositional characteristics that are shaped by genetic and developmental factors early in life. A review of the later issue can be found in the American Psychological Association’s amicus curiae brief filed in the BSA v. Dale Supreme Court case at http://www.apa.org/about/offices/ogc/amicus/boy-scouts/index.aspx

    Baden-Powell created the scouting movement after seeing the horrors of war and hatred first hand during his military service in southern Africa. He wanted to plant a spark in young people all around the world that reflected the values of universal brotherhood, friendship, and service. That vision is embodied in the purple world crest patch every scout in every nation wears. It is humbling to see that the U.K. Scout Association (home of Baden-Powell) has had the courage to address these issues in a manner that is actually consistent with our scout ideals . This is a stunning departure from our own national site addressing this topic

    The time has come to reclaim our identity as the nation’s best and Congressionally chartered youth movement. ArrowCorps5 and other large-scale service projects have been a step in the right direction of putting our money and hearts in the right places. We need to remember the meaning of the admonition that was whispered into our ears around our council fires put it into practice at the national level.

    ***
    It is not an easy journey.
    Sometimes even friends will mock you,
    tempt you to betray your promise,
    test your resolution often,
    often try to make you faithless.
    All the world may seem against you
    and the path seem dark and lonely.
    All your strength will be required
    when you face the isolation
    which a leader often faces.
    ***

    You need seek no lofty summit, these high places are within you.

    ***

    I have a lot of faith in this organization because of the younger generation that is now coming of age in professional, volunteer, and parent capacities. This policy will change. If anyone doubts that, listen to the stirring comments of Admiral Michael Mullen,, current Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, on what he describes as a fundamental issue of both personal and institutional integrity:

    In Brotherhood

  31. Ross, there are many folks who support you and others in your position. I have been in Scouting for nearly 30 years. I was the first woman to attend summer camp with my son’s troop in our council and the 3rd woman inducted into the OA in our council. My son is an Eagle Scout and was very active in the OA (never got Vigil though), including Drum Chairman for several years. Our troop was chartered by United Church of Christ for 52 years. When the Dale decision came down, BSA wanted us to sign, at rechartering, that we would “abide” by the decision, because UCC had filed a friend of the court brief on behalf of Dale. In order to do so, we had to NOT recharter several adult leaders / merit badge counselors because they were gay / lesbian (including my sister in law who was a firefighter / paramedic and an avid hiker – she had great skills that she taught to our troop). We chose to stand by our registered leaders, rechartered with everybody on the list and waited it out. Took them about two years to deny us re-chartering again and we dissolved the troop in 2005. We had one of the oldest troops in the county, and averaged 1 Eagle a year for 52 years. It was one of the saddest days of my life when we all voted to turn in our charter. But like the scout leader above, I think they should leave it up to the sponsoring organization. If our troop could run for 52 years, win nothing but praise from the community, and let all our family members participate, both gay and straight, with never a problem, then they should leave it up to the sponsor to choose the unit leaders. Everybody practices the Youth Safety Guidelines and now they do background checks – we knew everybody in our unit – we had 2nd generation kids who had dads make Eagle in our unit. My son is still registered with another troop, he’s 30 now, married and a practicing veterinarian (got Vet Med merit badge 15 years ago). He maintains his membership only so that he can teach Vet Med merit badge and the Environmental Science group of badges to scouts whereever he happens to be living. He was on staff at camp for several years. Some of his closest friends in OA are gay – some made Vigil Honor, some didn’t, all are Eagles. Some have come out and some have not. For those that did, we let them know that they have always had our utmost respect and still have our friendship. They are all older now, and I would be happy to have any one of them teach their scouting skills to any kid I know, whether it’s basic scouting stuff or specialty merit badges. In woodbadge they teach you to “use your resources.” My greatest resources were always the boys / men / scouters that had gone before – some of my resources happen to be gay. The BSA is depriving many scouts of valued / valuable people because of their discriminatory policy. I am hoping with the repeal of DADT, that perhaps it will begin to change. People will start standing up to wrong-headed policies and defending their unit and their unit’s chartering organization, so that the churches who are gay-friendly, like the UCC and Unitarians and others, will offset the bigoted attitude fostered by other churches.

  32. Ed Lynes:

    “I don’t broadcast who I am in Scouting, not because it’s appropriate or inappropriate, but because it’s typically not relevant.”

    Bingo Ed! You get it. If you’re heterosexual, it’s not “typically” relevant, it’s NEVER relevant. The question is: if you happen to be gay, WHY does the BSA make it relevant?

    Since when is a statement of honesty and truth a virtue when spoken by some and a “broadcast” by others? Your use of the word is repugnant.

    As an Eagle Scout, Sr. Patrol Leader, Assistant Scoutmaster, Brotherhood OA, numerous scouting and community service citations, etc., I respectfully disagree. The policy is morally wrong and by remaining an active participant in the BSA, one embraces its sanctification.

    No Ed, there are far too many organizations out there that find value and respect by the virtues discussed in this forum that do not require one to cower from the truth of one’s own identity.

    The BSA “not fit” for me: 2010

  33. The ideals of the B.S.A. and morality has always been specific since it’s inception. “A Scout is morally straight”., means just that!!! Now a few apparent anti moral liberals want to make it changes in the code that has stood the test of time because they want to flaunt their disregard for the teachings of the scriptures. The scriptures are from the book that our country and many many others, as well as many organizations, were founded.

  34. Using Edwardian-era jargon as revealed truth is an ignorant justification for sheer mean-spiritedness. “Straight” as a descriptor for heterosexuality did not come into use in this country until half a century after Baden Powell. I don’t believe the word is used in connection with sexuality in the Bible, either. As a matter of fact, you won’t find the word “homosexual” in any translation of the Bible, either.

    My husband and I have three Eagle sons, two Silver Beavers, and several positions between us, including district and council president, training chair, risk management chair, multiple Wood Badge staff positions, multiple National Scout Jamboree positions, and others. We have given decades of service to the BSA and are grateful to our council for defying the recent decree from National to reaffirm a discriminatory policy the time for which has passed.
    It appears that the BSA is determined to let the tail wag the dog and become an LDS organization. They can do that. Hiwever, it is sobering– and sad– to think of all the kids who will never sit around a campfire because their parents (our daughter among them) will never let them join an organization that (correctly) has us refer all youth questions on sexuality and marriage to parents or spiritual leaders, but perversely insists that it’s a vitally important part of our organizational decision-making conversation, when it isn’t and shouldn’t be.

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