Boy Scouts of America votes in favor of ending ban on openly gay membership

Big news emerged yesterday, as the Boy Scouts of America announced that a vote to end the ban on openly gay membership was passed by over 60% on 23 May, 2013. This policy has been heavily disputed for some time now, as according to this Wikipedia entry; and references have been made since as early as 1978 that the BSA deemed it inappropriate to allow homosexuals to hold leadership positions within the organization. Similar references have also been made against atheists and agnostics over the years.

This is certainly a huge step and a controversial move for the organization, especially under heavy scrutiny from parents and outside organizations (mainly religious) who sponsor more than 60-70% of the nearly 120,000 US scouting units to pull sponsorship as a result of the vote to end the ban on openly gay members.

As an Eagle Scout myself, the highest rank attainable in the Scouts, and a heterosexual male, I have to ask the glaring question—why do we still care about this? The BSA itself states:

The resolution also 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.

As far as I can remember, we never once even discussed the topic of sexuality or sexual preference. The closest we ever got to the subject was proper field grooming and ensuring we checked for ticks and bug bites on ourselves so as not to contract Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. This “issue” in my opinion is that it is nothing more than a religious and/or personal preference that has no place in the program. The skills, craft, and morals the Scouting program teaches deal with being a productive member of society and building confidence in yourself and as a member of a team to accomplish any task placed in front of you. Science has yet to prove that homosexuals are inferior at accomplishing those tasks or are unable to acquire those traits.

I commend the positive voting members, though I know it will hurt many Scouting programs who will lose membership and sponsorship due to the decision and official transition date of January 1, 2014. One step further to stopping downplaying people’s abilities according to their sexual preference.

The policy ban on homosexuals serving in a leadership position within the Boy Scouts of America is not affected by this decision, and according to officials, is not under consideration at this time. The following NBC video explains more:

BSA Lifts Ban on Openly Gay Members – NBC (video)


Additional Sources:

Photo credit: Photo credit: x-ray delta one / / CC BY-NC-SA


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About Brandon P. Duncan

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  1. My son is in Scouts. As I’ve followed this debate, I’ve remained in the middle as I believe both sides of the argument have lost sight of what Scouts is truly intended for.
    As a Christian, I am disappointed that the “religious” stance would exclude anyone from the organization. If we are to truly be disciples of Christ, we welcome all and model love and acceptance of the person, though it doesn’t mean we approve of the sin. Is homosexuality more of a sin than adultery, pride, lust, lying? If they are to base their decision to exclude sinners, I would challenge the leaders of the organization who are without sin to cast the first stone (John 8:7).
    If I’m honest, I’m still not clear on my opinion of the current state of the LGBT movement. At times, it would appear that they can become so vigilant in their stance, they are hurting the image and ultimately the future of those they stand for. In this case, they stand for allowing openly gay children to participate in the BSA. Have they considered they are making these children a target and perhaps causing undue stress for them to admit their sexual preference before they are ready to do so on their own terms. Who approached these children and asked the tough questions and/or if they even want to participate in the BSA? And, furthermore, is it morally appropriate to use them to push such a polarized agenda.
    All this to say, I too commend the leadership and voting members for their courageous decision. It would have been courageous regardless of the final vote.
    I am proud of my Scout and his accomplishments. I look forward to his many fruitful years of growth and character development in the BSA.

    • therookiedad says:

      Here is my problem with the anti-gay movement, are they hurting how you live your life?

      Now I completely support BSA for coming out (no pun intended) with this decision. I’m sure when I was scout working my way up to eagle scout there were scouts that were gay. However, I did not let that hinder my accomplishments or try and stop them from reaching their goals.

      • I agree, Brandon.
        That’s really why the outcome of the vote wouldn’t sway us one way or another. My son is focused on his achievements and helping others accomplish theirs as well. Ultimately, that’s what Scouts is about.

    • I totally agree with your points. I do think SOME of the members of the LGBT movement take things too far, but you can’t say the anti-LGBT doesn’t. I think everyone just needs to mind their own business. If you don’t like “being gay” then don’t be gay. If someone else does, who-gives-a-crap? Of course, using a child for the purpose of making a statement is wrong no matter who you are. Sometime people forget that the kid wasn’t normally the one who started the ruckus to begin with.

    • I appreciate your honesty. With respect, if a Scout is openly gay, they have already come out with this and therefore I can’t see how this pressures them to do so. I also don’t see it as making them targets. If anything, they already were targets by being gay and not formally accepted by BSA, bing part of a group that until this decision officially condoned the discrimination of them based on that sexuality. I can’t help but think of so many quietly gay Scouts who now have one more small piece of acceptance in their lives to help them through what is such a struggle for so many in a culture and society that has far to go to this end, beyond simply the BSA’s policies. The only agenda I see is a push, a demand for acceptance of people as they are, thus I can’t see it as using gay Scouts for the movement’s selfish purposes.

      • You make some great points, Shawn. Neither the LGBT nor the Leadership of the BSA are my target in this. You’ll read that I found fault with both and my disappointment lies primarily with the BSA.
        However, working with and around over 4000 students on a daily basis, I’ve not experienced children who are claiming to be openly gay. Nor do I believe that children in the BSA, most of which are pre-teenage students, are mature enough to handle the pressure and stresses of announcing that they are gay.
        Again, this opinion is strictly based on my experience. There are many environmental factors that may play a part in the cross section of children that I witness.
        I agree with your demand to accept people as they are. I believe I made that very clear in my second paragraph. I will end with this, there is no group in America or abroad that has started a movement without a selfish purpose. NO GROUP, including religious and secular.

  2. jetts31 says:

    How would we feel if the BSA decided not to let Blacks, or Asians, or Hispanics in to their organization? We wouldn’t allow it. So why in the world should we be ok for a group, who has a motto that includes “To help other people at all times” to not help people? Not allow them to learn and grow with values that I found to be well worth it when I was in the scouts simply because of their sexual preference? Discrimination is discrimination. Regardless if it happens because of the color of your skin or who you decide to love.

    • Exactly, Jimmy. The BSA made a big first step here, but they also made it cautiously. Note that the leadership allowance was not put to vote. What the hell makes a gay adult any less of s a survival or political science expert?

      People instantly picture the extremists of every subset of people. Gay = flamboyant, purse-toting, hip-switching little sissies. Manliness = 6′ 4″ lumberjack looking men carrying women over their shoulders and revered by other men everywhere. Middle-Eastern = turban-wearing, bomb-toting terrorists.

      It’s just plain ignorance and closed-mindedness.

  3. Props to those who voted for this step forward for BSA, though steps remain, primarily to end the ban on openly gay leaders as well. The orientation of one’s sexuality toward either the opposite or same sex does not correlate to sexual predation.

    I suspect there are many quietly gay Scouts for whom this is a major step in helping them to feel accepted and hopefully even just slightly less conflicted in understanding their own self and sexuality, though this greatly depends on their local leadership and its reaction to this decision.

    • You are right on about other groups now moving in to help fill the gap as there is no doubt the BSA will lose sponsorship. If these groups do not move in, their fight will have lost all credibility.

    • Very true. The units are only as good as their leadership (much like corporations and CEOs). If they choose to not make a big deal of it, then it will probably be business as usual.

      The other aspect some people don’t see is very similar to the military’s policies. Yes, you can be openly gay now, BUT, it is no more acceptable for a heterosexual person or couple to act unprofessionally in the workplace than a homosexual one. You still have standards that you live up to. 9/10 times, their sexual practices or preferences will only be known outside of work in their personal space. Scouts will be the same way. IF there are a few that come out, they still won’t be able to act on anything (if they wanted to, of course) on scouting trips. That is not the time or place for any relationships anyway. It really changes nothing except that people might know for sure now.

  4. “I know it will hurt many Scouting programs who will lose membership and sponsorship due to the decision…”

    Growing pains? I am curious to see if the negative impacts in the short term in terms of participation match the current hype. I am curious to see if this will help strengthen BSA’s membership in the longer term, though that could be limited until the ban on gay leaders is lifted. But the sponsorship element will certainly cause some pains if other groups don’t now step in given this move.

    • Temporarily, yes. Eventually some groups will come back around after they discover that it wasn’t a huge deal in the first place, but change scares people. Chad is pretty spot on in another comment when he says that most kids of scouting age are not able to handle coming out in the first place. Even if scouting says it’s ok, most will never say a word because of peer pressures.

This is what I think...