Twitter icon

Facebook icon

About this site
About us
Our beliefs
Is this your first visit?
Contact us
External links

Recommended books

Visitors' essays
Our forum
New essays
Other features
Buy a CD of this site
Vital notes

World religions
Christian def'n
 Shared beliefs
 Handling change
 Bible topics
 Bible inerrancy
 Bible harmony
 Interpret the Bible
 Beliefs & creeds
 Da Vinci code
 Revelation 666
Other religions
Cults and NRMs
Comparing Religions

Non-theistic beliefs

About all religions
Main topics
Basic information
Gods & Goddesses
Handling change
Doubt & security
Confusing terms
End of the World?
True religion?
Seasonal events
Science vs. Religion
More information

Morality & ethics
Absolute truth

Attaining peace
Religious tolerance
Religious freedom
Religious hatred
Religious conflict
Religious violence

"Hot" topics
Very hot topics
Ten Commandments
Abortion access
Assisted suicide
Death penalty

Same-sex marriage

Human rights
Gays in the military
Sex & gender
Stem cells
Other topics

Laws and news
Religious laws
Religious news


!!!!!!!! Search error!  If the URL ends something like .htm/  or .htm# delete the character(s) after .htm and hit return.

About the Boy Scouts of America (BSA)

Part 3: Discrimination against gays & bisexuals:
Consequences. Webmaster's comments. Is the
BSA discriminating against the wrong members?
BSA changes!

horizontal rule
Sponsored link.

horizontal rule

This topic is a continuation from the previous essay

horizontal rule

The BSA and discrimination against lesbians, gays and bisexuals (LGBs):

There have been a number of court cases involving the termination of existing BSA members (or BSA'S refusal to allow members to join), on the basis of that individual's sexual orientation. It is based on BSA requirement that Scouts and their leaders must be "clean" and "morally straight." The "Complainants' proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law" in a District of Columbia court case established a number of points: 1

bullet "The Boy Scouts' discrimination is not based on conduct or expression. It is based upon status." i.e. it is based on sexual orientation (feelings), not sexual behavior (sexual acts). Both celibate gays and sexually active gays are not permitted to join; existing members are expelled when discovered.

bullet Boy Scouts have referred to their policies of excluding "gays, girls and the godless" as "three G's." At one time, the BSA did not allow women volunteers as leaders; this sexist policy was terminated decades ago. Years ago, female youth were also denied admission to the BSA; in 1991, they were admitted to the Venturing program for young men and women aged 14 to 20. 

bullet The BSA has no standard policy of excluding members on the basis of premarital sex, adultery, use of pornography, or any other sexual practice. Each case is considered on its own merits. Having a homosexual orientation or engaging in same-gender sexual behavior are the only sexual matters that result in an automatic expulsion.

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.

bullet Their anti-gay policy is semi-secret; it does not appear in program materials, training manuals, etc. which are given to Scouts, Scout leaders or parents.

bullet The Scout oath, law, motto, handbook and slogan do not mention homosexuality. 


In 1991-FEB-15, the BSA's national office issued a "Position statement on homosexuality and the BSA." After referring to moral and traditional family values, they stated:

"We believe that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the requirements in the Scout Oath that a Scout be morally straight and in the Scout law that Scout be clean in word and deed, and that homosexuals do not prove a desirable role model for Scouts."

Thus, BSA rejected homosexual conduct, and extended this to banning all persons with a homosexual orientation.


In the same document, BSA asserted that:

"As a private membership organization, we believe our right to determine the qualifications of our members and leaders is protected by the Constitution of the United States."

The BSA is under considerable pressure:

  • Since 1999, its membership has dropped by about one third.

  • It's membership is currently dropping by about 100,000 a year, from 2.8 million in 2011, to 2.7 million in 2012, and about 2.6 million in 2013. 5

  • Because of their internal policies, many corporate funding sources no longer donate money to the BSA because of the BSA's discrimination against sexual minorities.

  • The main sponsors of BSA troops are The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormon Church), and the Roman Catholic Church. Both faith groups actively discriminate against the LGBT community and expect the BSA to continue to do the same.

horizontal rule

Are the concerns of the BSA misdirected?

A personal note from the Webmaster: Bias alert.

The BSA must be continuously on guard against adult troop leaders who are sexually attracted to children and who may act on these feelings by sexually molesting youth members.

I suspect that because of the BSA's long association with conservative faith groups, the BSA has accepted some of the latter's beliefs which have been shown to lack invalidity. One common belief is that homosexuality can be caught like a virus -- that one gay youth can infect others with homosexuality. Many also believe that adults with a homosexual orientation are at extremely high risk of sexually molesting children. And so, the BSA has committed enormous energy to detecting and expelling youth and adult members who are gay, lesbian or bisexual.

My belief is that homosexuality is not the direct problem. Rather, it is

  • Pedophilia: strong feelings of sexual attraction by an adult or older teen towards children who have not reached puberty.
  • Hebephilia: as for pedophelia, except the child is in the early years of puberty.
  • Ephebophilia: as for pedophelia, except the child is postpubertal, typically in the age range of 14 to 17 years-of-age.

Sometimes the meaning of the term "pedophelia" is expanded to to include all of the above.

Sometime pedophiles, hebephiles, and ephebophiles act on their feelings of sexual attraction and are thus a direct danger to youth members of the BSA. In most cases they probably do not act on their feelings of attraction. Most pedophiles, hebephiles, and ephebophiles have a heterosexual orientation. That is, they may also have feelings of sexual attraction to other adults of the opposite sex. Rarely they are asexual and have no such strong feelings. Rarely they are homosexuals and are also attracted to other adults of the same sex.

By committing massive energy towards weeding out homosexuals in their ranks, the BSA are probably overloooking the majority of pedophiles, hebephiles, and ephebophiles, and leaving their youth membership in danger of molestation.

horizontal rule

Consequences of the BSA policy:

Unfortunately, their policy towards gay youth can have life or death consequences to individual scouts.

The Boy Scouts of America's web site reported that there were about 2.84 million youth members in the BSA. 5 Assuming that 5% of scouts are homosexual and 5% are bisexual, this means that there were as many as 280,000 gay or bisexual youth members in the organization. Most of them are probably not yet aware of their sexual orientation. They are being taught by the BSA that they must by necessity keep their sexual orientation secret whenever it becomes clear to them. From the BSA "Position statement on homosexuality and the BSA," those who are aware that they are gay are regarded as incapable of being morally straight or clean in word and deed no matter what their behavior is. Those who are perhaps most in need of self worth are considered rejects. Many internalize this oppression and consider themselves as disordered rejects.

Many teen gays recognize their homosexual orientation and understand that the only way in which they can survive is to stay deep in "the closet."

  • They dare not openly reveal their orientation in school out of fear of harassment and physical attacks.

  • They cannot reveal it in the home because of the danger of being kicked to the curb by their parents. In many cities up to 40% of homeless youth are gays who have been abandoned by their parents. In Salt Lake City, UT the rate is over 40%.

  • Above all, they cannot reveal it in church because of the church's condemnation of sexual minorities, Many conservative faith groups interpret the six or seven "clobber passages" in the Bible as teaching that gays will automatically be relegated to the torture chambers of Hell after death for all eternity.

If the BSA were more accepting of gays, then they might feel safe enough in the troop to come out at least to the scout master. But under the previous BSA policies, that was not an option. Some gays become very depressed; some of them develop suicidal ideation; some of them complete suicides. The BSA must be aware of this dynamic. But to maintain their concept of personal and organization purity, they elected to abandoned those scouts who are perhaps in the greatest need of acceptance. The trail of coffins lengthens daily.

During 2013-MAY, the BSA made a major step forward in reducing its level of discrimination and giving support to its gay youth. They changed their policy and now allow gay youth to join Scouting.

horizontal rule

Another personal note from the Webmaster: Bias alert.

I recall an incident in my city's school system back in the 1980's. I attended a meeting of the school board as a representative from the the local distress/suicide prevention hotline. The topic was human sexuality in general and homosexuality in particular. From the early questions asked, it was obvious that many on the board viewed gays as an undesirable outside influence trying to gain access to the schools. As the presentations continued, members of the board started to realize that what were really being discussed were very vulnerable LGBT students who were already in the classrooms, lacking support. and hurting. As the meeting progressed, most of he board members switched their thinking towards what they could do to help LGB students already in the classrooms.

I hope that the Boy Scouts of America national executive board, its volunteer adult leaders, etc. are all able to make a similar transition. However, I expect that some units and their leaders who are sponsored by conservative faith groups will wish to continue discrimination against gays, will sever their connection with the BSA and join or organize a more homophobic group.

horizontal rule

Sponsored link:

horizontal rule

Evidence of some change within the BSA national body:

Citizen, a program of the Fundamentalist Christian organization Focus on the Family has stated:

"Instead of squashing local insurrections and rewarding councils that uphold Scout policy, BSA headquarters has continued to send mixed signals that weaken its national stance. 2

One one hand, the BSA taking direct action to maintain its policy of discrimination against gays and non-religious members. For example:

bullet The national body disbanded seven Cub Scout troops in Oak Park, IL, in 2001 after the latter announced a policy that would permit persons of all sexual orientations to become scout leaders.

bullet The national body turned down a request from the Cleveland Scout troop 98 when they asked for permission to sign a nondiscrimination pledge.

bullet In 2002-JAN, the BSA headquarters rejected resolutions proposed by local Scout leaders to change national policy to allow persons of all sexual orientations to become scoutmasters.

However, the national body appears to be ignoring decisions that have been quietly reached between individual councils and their United Way organizations. Citizen writes that:

" the message seems to be: You can change policy as along as you don’t announce it or put it in writing. When asked about recent United Way agreements and 'nondiscrimination policies' adopted by local councils, [national BSA spokesman Gregg] Shields responded, 'I haven’t seen those documents that the local councils have signed, but nothing they have done has been out of compliance.' "

The national body seems to have adopted a policy similar to the military's old "don't ask, don't tell" rule. A news release issued in the year 2000 states that the organization "makes no effort to discover the sexual orientation of any person." 3

In late 2013-January, faced with gradually declining membership and the termination of contributions from many corporate sources, the BSA revisited their policies of discrimination and exclusion. Initially, they considered a form of local option whereby individual troops would be able allow gays to join. More details. By 2013-APR, as a result of intensive study and surveys, they developed a new policy and are recommending that youths with a homosexual or bisexual orientation be tolerated in the organization, even as adult BSA leaders who have a homosexual orientation are banned, and all members who do not believe in a God are also banned. More details.

horizontal rule

This topic continues in the next essay

horizontal rule

Related essays on this site:

bullet Main menu: Boy Scouts of America

bullet Organized opposition to the BSA's discriminatory policies

bullet Menu: Homosexuality and bisexuality

bullet Different religions, different beliefs

horizontal rule


  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-1, at
  2. Candi Cushman, "Who's Selling Out the Scouts?," Citizen, at:
  3. "Boy Scouts of America sustained by United States Supreme Court,", 2000-JUN-28, at:
  4. "Boy Scouts of America: Reinstate Cub Scout leader who was removed for being gay,", at:
  5. "Year in review," Boy Scouts of America, 2011, at:

horizontal rule

Copyright © 1999 to 2013, by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. 
Originally published on 1999-AUG-9 
Latest updated: 2013-APR-29
Author: B.A. Robinson

line.gif (538 bytes)
Sponsored link

horizontal rule

Go to the previous page, or return to the Boy Scouts menu, or choose:


Go to home page  We would really appreciate your help

E-mail us about errors, etc.  Purchase a CD of this web site

FreeFind search, lists of new essays...  Having problems printing our essays?

Google Page Translator:

This page translator works on Firefox,
Opera, Chrome, and Safari browsers only

After translating, click on the "show
original" button at the top of this
page to restore page to English.

Sponsored links: