What Happens Next for the BSA

The BSA recently affirmed their anti-gay policy and then all of a sudden last week they announced they would reconsider.  This rather quick about face signaled to me that the policy would be reversed.  There would be no reason to bring up the topic so soon unless there finally enough votes to have the Boy Scouts of America join the 21st Century.  In preparation for the announcement, I wrote the following:

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It has been nearly three years since I first wrote about the Boy Scouts of America and their Gay Problem and a little more than two years since my It Gets Better video; it has been eight years since I served as Western Region Chief for the Order of the Arrow.  Now, the Boy Scouts of America has finally partially changed their ban on gays.  Thousands of young men will not be able to be honest with both their hearts and their fellow Scouts.  They will be able to come to terms with their sexuality in a far healthier way than hiding in the shadow as they have in decades past. Gay adults will be able to provide positive role models for straight and gay kids alike.  What happens next?

My hunch is that it will largely be like the catastrophic blow to America’s defenses once Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was appealed.  Although as folks in the BSA are contractually bound to follow order, the implementation may be a bit more messy. It is important to understand that what the actual policy is that memberships decisions will be made at the troop level as opposed to a blanket national policy.  This means The Center in Las Vegas can sponsor an all inclusive Troop and some bigoty church elsewhere can still ban gays and lesbians.  Some are calling on the BSA to have a non discrimination policy, to force all units to allow gays; those who do do not understand the complexities of the national and regional culture of the organization and its partners.  The day may come but this first small step is plenty for now.  In the day to day running of the organization, this will actually change very little.

The more complex policy question comes for Districts and Councils and OA Lodges and Chapters.  These are groups that are run by volunteers outside the realm of an actual unit.  What comes down from the National Organization on this respect will be very interesting to watch.  Will an anit-gay Lodge Adviser be able to prevent a gay Chapter Adviser from serving?  Will an anti-gay District Chairman refuse to permit gay friendly troops from participating in a camporee?  Should a gay scout be banned from serving on summer camp staff just because the camp director isn’t so keen on the new policy? The answer to these questions should be an emphatic “no” but the tone of which will mostly rely on local professional Scouters paid by the national organization to implement the program.  What should be clear is that Scout Executives and high ranking volunteers should start to figure out their responses now.  Those who fear this change need to embrace getting educated on LGBT issues and should be prepared to stand firm for equality in what may be a loud chorus of folks clinging to the past.  Each Council should prepare to have a handful of folks prepared to help local units and districts tackle questions that arise from members about the new policy and should bring in members of the LGBT community to help inform and guide professionals and volunteers as we move forward as an organization.  The BSA produces strong youth and adult leaders and it is going to take some strength to help smooth any wrinkles in the implementation of the policy.  If you’re one of those leaders, I’m happy to help you out.

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The decision makers today in Texas chickened out and punted the decision to the May meeting.  The delay has questionable impacts on the final decision.  Some folks asked me today if by punting it the large more likely more conservative full group in May and I can say I am now not sure.  I thought today’s vote was a sure thing and clearly I was wrong.  What I do know is that the time gives both sides additional time to crank up the pressure.  A lot of pressure the last week was placed on the national office in Texas.  With more groups being able to contribute their voices, it is critical that those in favor of ending the ban speak with their local Scouting Councils.   Once you figure out what your local Council is, try to hunt down your Key 3 (Scout Executive, Council Board President, and Council Commissioner).

For example, for the Nevada Area Council the Key 3 is as follows

Scout Executive: Keith Ashby keith.ashby@scouting.org

Board President: Sandy Rogers sandrarogers1013@msn.com

Council Commissioner: Jeff Whitaker whitaker@wradvisors.com

You could also contact the rest of the board for your council.

Those three people need to hear that there is support for lifting the ban locally.  The folks at the very top want the change and now we need to build pressure locally.  It was local groups that largely won in getting a delay today and it will take local groups to lift the ban and implement the ideas I wrote about in anticipation of a victory today.  What happens next largely depends on how much reasonable pressure is placed on the organization in the next several weeks.  It should be steady, polite, and reasonable.  Thousands of closeted Scouts are counting us.


2 thoughts on “What Happens Next for the BSA

  1. Membership decisions in the BSA should be made on an individual basis and not determined by a blanket National policy (except with regards to criminal records, youth protection issues). Sexual orientation does not fall into this category. Sex is not an appropriate topic in Scouting. We are building leaders and developing strong character. Any adult with an interest in helping youth meet these goals should be able to volunteer and serve in any capacity. In any District or Council committee or OA Lodge or Chapter we need the best person to serve regardless of sexual orientation.

  2. Scout Leaders around the country received an email inviting them to participate in the following survey.

    PAGE 2 welcome
    Are you currently a volunteer at the council or district level? (yes or no)

    PAGE 3 Current BSA membership and leadership standards policy.

    The current Boy Scout Membership ad Leadership Requirements are: The application must possess the moral, educational, and emotional qualities that the Boy Scouts of America deems necessary to afford positive leadership to youth. The applicant must also be the correct age, subscribe to the precepts of the Declaration of Religious Principle, and abide by the Scout Oath or Promise, and the Scout Law. While the BSA does not proactively inquire about the sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or member, we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA

    Today, the BSA finds itself in the position where there are different moral views among Scout parents, volunteers and religious chartered organizations in regard to homosexuality

    The current Boy Scouts of America requirements, stated above, prohibit open homosexuals from being Scouts or adult Scout leaders. To what extent do you support or oppose this requirement?

    (answer choices) a.0 totally support b.) somewhat support c.) neutral d.) somewhat oppose e.) totally oppose

    PAGE 4 Following are some possible scenarios that could happen .if the Boy Scouts keeps or changes its policy. Please tell us the degree to which you believe the actions taken in each scenario are acceptable or unacceptable.

    (1st problem)
    Johnny, a first grade boy, has joined Tiger Cubs with his friends. Johnny’s friends and their parents unanimously nominate Johnny’s mom, who is known by them to be a lesbian, to be the den leader. Johnny’s pack is chartered to a church where the doctrine of that faith does not teach that homosexuality is wrong. It is acceptable of unacceptable for his mother to serve as den leader for his Cub Scout den?
    (2nd problem)
    Tom started in the program as a aTiger Cub, and finished every requirement for the Eagle Scout Award at 16 years of age. At his board of review Tom reveals that he is gay. Is it acceptable or unacceptable for the review board to deny his Eagle Scout Award based on that admission?

    (3rd problem)
    Rob is 15 years old, and the only openly gay Scout in a Boy Scout troop. It is acceptable of unacceptable for the troop leader to allow Bob to tent with a heterosexual boy on an overnight camping trip?

    (4th problem)
    A gay male troop leader, along with another adult leader, is taking a group of boys on a camping troop following the youth protection guidelines of two deep leadership. It is it acceptable or unacceptable for the gay adult leader to take adolescent boys on an overnight camping trip?

    (5th problem)
    A troop is chartered by an organization that does not believe homosexuality is wrong and allows gays to be ministers. The youth minister traditionally serves as the Scoutmaster for the troop. The congregation hires a youth minister who is gay. Is it acceptable or unacceptable for this youth minister to serve as the Scoutmaster?

    (6th problem)
    David, a Boy Scout, believes that homosexuality is wrong. His troop is chartered by a church where the doctrine of that faith also teaches that homosexuality is wrong. Steve, an openly gay youth, applies to the troop and is denied membership. Is it acceptable or unacceptable for this troop to deny Steve membership in their troop?

    a.) totally acceptable b.) somewhat acceptable c.) never acceptable nor unacceptable d.) somewhat unacceptable e.) totally unacceptable

    PAGE 5
    After reading the scenarios in the previous question, please answer one question again. The current Boy Scouts of America requirements prohibit open homosexuals from being Scouts or adult Scout leader. To what extend do you support or oppose this requirement?

    a. totally support b.) somewhat support c.) neutral d. Somewhat oppose 3e.) totally oppose

    Different organizations that charter Boy Scout troops have different positions on the morality of homosexuality. Do you support or oppose allowing chartered organizations to follow their own beliefs when selecting Boy Scout members and adult leaders, if that means there will be different standards from one organization to the next.

    a. totally support b.) somewhat support c.) neutral d. Somewhat oppose 3e.) totally oppose

    PAGE 6
    What is your greatest concern if the policy remains in place and openly gay youth and adults are prohibited form joining Scouting? (Please be specific)
    [a box for you typed answer if provided]

    What is your greatest concern if the polic is changed to allow charter organizations to make their own decisions to admit openly gay Scouts and leaders? (Please be specific)
    [a box for you typed answer if provided]

    PAGE 7
    Do you believe the current policy prohibiting open homosexuals from being Scouts or adult Scout leaders is a core value of Scouting found in the Scout Oath and Law?

    CHOISE FOR ANSWER yes or no

    If the Boy Scouts of America makes a decision on the policy that disagrees with your own view, will you continue to participate in the Boy Scouts, or will you leave the organization?

    a.) I believe I can find a way to continue
    b.) I do not believe I can find a way to continue
    c.) I have not yet made up my mind

    PAGE 7
    How likely is it that you would recommend volunteering in the Scouting program to other friends or acquaintances?

    CHOICES FOR ANSWER (scale from 0 to 10 with `not at 0 all likely to 10 Extremely likely

    What is the primary reason you gave this rating? (a box for your typed answer is provided.)

    PAGE 8
    Your response to the previous questions indicates that you are less than satisfied with Scouting. Would you like to be contacted by someone at the council who can talk with you about a your concerns? Yes or No

    How would you prefer to be contacted E-mail or Telephone
    (with space for e-mail address or telephone number with time to call)

    PAGE 9
    Please indicate the extent to which you agree or disagree with the following statements

    There is a comment box beside each statement so that you can provide feedback that will help you council take action

    COUNCI/District Operations
    I have the tools and resources to be an effective volunteer
    I feel the council today is very responsive to Scout volunteers’ needs
    I get all the information I need to do the work required for my position.
    My committee/board is definitely effective at accomplishing its goals in a timely manner

    Council/District Leadership
    My skills and capabilities are being fully used in my volunteer position
    My district/council is doing everything it can to deliver quality programs to our Scouts

    Scouting Overall
    I understand the unique benefits that the Scouting program provides to today’s youth

    (left to right) a.) Strongly disagree b.) disagree c.) somewhat disagree d.) neutral e.) Somewhat agree f.) Agree g.) Strongly Agree
    (a box for typed comments is attached)
    Comments Tell us a some more about why you give this rating


    If there was one thing that I would suggest to improve Scouting, it would be
    (a box for your typed comments is provided)

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