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Religious Tolerance logo

Religious intolerance and homophobia


Boy Scouts of America (BSA): Past &
Present Discrimination Based on
Religious Belief, Sexual Orientation,
and Gender Identity. Changes.

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In this web site, the term LGBT refers to the lesbian,
gay, bisexual, transgender, and transsexual community.
"LGB" refers to
the first three.

Boy scout

The first words of the Boy Scout's oath:
"On my honor I will do my best."

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bullet "No man is much good unless he believes in God and obeys His laws. So every Scout should have religion." From the book "Scouting for Boys" by Robert Lord Baden Powell, founder of the Scouting movement.


"I believe that the Boy Scouts of America does a wonderful service for this country. I support the right of the Boy Scouts of America to decide what it wants to do on that issue. I feel that all people should be able to participate in the Boy Scouts regardless of their sexual orientation." Mitt Romney, while debating with Ted Kennedy in the Massachusetts senate race of 1994.

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Some quotations related to discrimination by the Boy Scouts of America (BSA):

bullet "The Boy Scouts of America maintain that no member can grow into the best kind of citizen without recognizing his obligation to God." Boy Scouts of America, Bylaws.


"Any organization could profit from a 10-year-old member with enough strength of character to refuse to swear falsely." Editorial, New York Times, 1993-DEC-12, commenting on the Boy Scouts' exclusion of a young Atheist who refused to lie about his religious beliefs in order to be accepted into a BSA troop.

bullet "If a youth comes to a Scoutmaster and admits to doing wrong, like stealing, lying, cheating or vandalizing, the normal procedure is to counsel the youth privately and sympathetically. ... If the youth admits to being a homosexual, the Boy Scouts' policy is to instantly terminate his association with Scouting." From the "Findings of fact," in a 1998 District of Columbia court case 1

bullet "Obviously, the Boy Scouts can accept and reject whomever they wish. But officials should bear in mind that they, like the Christian Right and the Anglican bishops, are disserving the nation's boys -- mere children -- when teaching them to hate fellow humans." Bill Maxwell, St. Petersburg Times, 1998-AUG-09

bullet "... access for updated information on the campaign to destroy the Boy Scouts." Traditional Values Coalition Newsletter, 2001-JUN-29 (The web site is no longer online.)

bullet "The available evidence points inexorably to the conclusion that Baden-Powell was a repressed homosexual." Tim Jeal 2

bullet "...the Boy Scouts of America have been brutally assailed as malicious monsters because they believe that only adults who adhere to a moral code should lead young boys." Jerry Falwell 3 (His implication is that one cannot be moral without first believing in God).

bullet "When religion sanctifies hatred, it lends to that hatred a special ferocity. Normal moral inhibitors are erased." Johannes Cardinal Wildebrands.

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massive star Timeline of changes to the BSA discrimination policies:

  • Prior to 2013, the national membership policies of the BSA did not allow youth members or adult leaders to join the BSA if they:
  • Changes to BSA discrimination policies starting in 2013:
    • 2013-MAY: Delegates to the BSA National Annual Meeting voted to allow gay and bisexual to join and to remain in the BSA, but only until their 18th birthday.

    • 2015-AUG: The BSA started to allow gay and bisexual adults as scout leaders.

    • 2017-FEB: The BSA expelled a member because he was a transgender boy, then welcomed him back.
      welcomed back.The BSA started to allow transgender boys to join. These are youth who were identified as female at birth but now identify as being male, or as having no gender or as having both male and female aspects of gender.

    • As of 2017-MAY: There does not appear to be any movement towards admitting boy members or adult leaders who do not believe in God, including Agnostics, Atheists, Secular Humanists, some Unitarian Universalists, and others unwilling to recite the "God" clause in the Scout Oath.

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Other essays in this section:


Information about the Boy Scouts of America:

  • Part 1: Overview Of The BSA. The BSA's history and foundational beliefs.

  • Part 2: BSA's beliefs (Continued). Membership oaths. Intolerant & tolerant policies.

  • Part 3: BSA's tolerant policies (Continued). Shift in the U.S. culture, and the BSA's response to allow gay and bisexual members.

  • Part 4: Past Discrimination Against Gays. Consequences

  • Part 5: Discrimination continues against Atheists and other non-theists. Efforts to overcome the discrimination

  • Part 6: Discrimination against Atheists etc. (Continued).

bulletThe BSA and its funding sources
bulletAdditional information:
bullet The BSA and Unitarian Universalists. The BSA and the U.S. federal government

bullet Boy Scouts in Canada and the UK. Author's comments

bullet Groups opposed to the BSA's policies of discrimination against gays


Trail Life USA organized as pro-Christian/anti-gay/anti-transgender group in competition to the BSA:

bulletRecent court cases
bullet1998 to 1999-OCT

bullet1999-DEC to now
bullet Year 2000: U.S. Supreme Court decision
bulletRecent events reported in the media:
bulletYear 2000

bulletYear 2001

bulletYear 2002

bulletYear 2003

bullet Year 2004 to 2010


Year 2012: 


Year 2013:


Years 1910 to 2015:

  • A chronological review of the BSA's exclusionary membership policies based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, and belief in one or more deities at various times during their history. Part 1 Part 2


Year 2017:

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Related essays on this site:

bulletHomosexuality and bisexuality

bulletDifferent religions, different beliefs

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The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Findings of Fact..., R.D. Pool & M.S. Geller vs. Boy Scouts of America..." Commission on Human Rights, Government of the District of Columbia, 1998-MAY-01, at
  2.  Tim Jeal, "Boy-Man: The Life of Lord Baden-Powell"
  3. Jerry Falwell, "The New Racism," Falwell Confidential, 2001-AUG-30

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Site navigation:

Home > Religious conflict > U.S. & Worldwide > here

or Home > Hot topics > Homosexuality & bisexuality > Homophobia > here

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Copyright © 1999 to 2017 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. 
Originally published on 1999-AUG-9
Latest updated: 2017-FEB-13
Author: B.A. Robinson

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