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Religious Tolerance logo

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) cancels ban on gay youths

2013-MAY-23/24: Reaction to the BSA national council
vote by: Boy Scouts of America, Alliance Defending
Freedom, and the American Family Association

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This topic is a continuation from the previous essay.

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Reaction by the Boy Scouts of America:

Wayne Brock, chief executive of the BSA said:

"This has been a challenging chapter in our history. While people have differing opinions on this policy, kids are better off when they're in scouting."

The Boy Scouts of America issued a formal statement on the afternoon of the vote saying:

"For 103 years, the Boy Scouts of America has been a part of the fabric of this nation, with a focus on working together to deliver the nation's foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training.

"Based on growing input from within the Scouting family, the BSA leadership chose to conduct an additional review of the organization's long-standing membership policy and its impact on Scouting's mission. This review created an outpouring of feedback from the Scouting family and the American public, from both those who agree with the current policy and those who support a change.

"Today, following this review, -- the most comprehensive listening exercise in Scouting's history -- the approximate 1,400 voting members of the Boy Scouts of America's National Council approved a resolution to remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone. 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. A change to the current membership policy for adult leaders was not under consideration; thus, the policy for adults remains in place. The BSA thanks all the national voting members who participated in this process and vote.

This policy change is effective Jan. 1, 2014, allowing the Boy Scouts of America the transition time needed to communicate and implement this policy to its approximately 116,000 Scouting units.

The Boy Scouts of America will not sacrifice its mission, or the youth served by the movement, by allowing the organization to be consumed by a single, divisive, and unresolved societal issue. As the National Executive Committee just completed a lengthy review process, there are no plans for further review on this matter.

While people have different opinions about this policy, we can all agree that kids are better off when they are in Scouting. Going forward, our Scouting family will continue to focus on reaching and serving youth in order to help them grow into good, strong citizens. America's youth need Scouting, and by focusing on the goals that unite us, we can continue to accomplish incredible things for young people and the communities we serve." 1


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Reactions by various faith groups, parachurch groups, secular human rights organizations, etc. in alphabetical order:

  • By the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF):

    The ADF is a legal advocacy group that contributes legal expertise to defend believers' religious freedom. Sometimes, this involves the original meaning of the term "religious freedom" like restrictions on religious belief, expression, assembly, proselytizing, etc. Sometimes this involves the new, emerging meaning which is the religious freedom to use religious beliefs to denigrate, oppress, or discrimination against women or minorities.

    Senior counsel David Cortman said:

    "Those promoting the agenda to change what the Boy Scouts have always been won't rest until there is complete acceptance of any sexual preference for both leaders and members. With its decision, BSA has rejected its freedom to promote and practice the values that have served to shape our nation's boys into leaders for the last century." 3

    A decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in the year 2000 ruled that the BSA, as a private group, had every right to exercise their religious freedom to discriminate against gays and lesbians. In 2013, they have decided to not exercise that religious freedom.

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  • By the American Family Association (AFA):

    The AFA has been listed as an active anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center because of its "... propagation of known falsehoods" and the use of "... demonizing propaganda" against the LGBT community. 4

    Prior to the MAY-23 vote, Bryan Fischer -- AFA Director of analysis for government and policy -- claimed in this video supplied by Right Wing Watch that: "The chances that this 1,400 member National Council is going to remove the ban on homosexuality is nonexistent."


He turned out to be wrong.

On MAY-23, AFA's Director of special projects, Randy Sharp, said:

    ""It's a sad day for America [and] for the Boy Scouts of America. It just simply raises its finger to the air and tests the air - and then caves to the winds of public opinion." 6

He also said:

    "I think what we're going to see in the next year or so is a mass exodus of adults and boys from the Boy Scouts of America program. Some of the estimates that I've heard are up to 400,000 to 500,000 boys and adults will resign their positions with the Boy Scouts of America. ... They can no longer include a reverence to God. They can no longer include being morally straight inside the Scout oath. So I think over the next couple of years they're going to really regret this decision." 3

Webmaster's comment: Sharp might not have been aware of the massive surveys conducted by the BSA of all groups of stakeholders in the group which received 200,000 responses.

The BSA will continue to require its members to acknowledge their responsibility to God. Youth and adult leaders who are Agnostic, Atheist, and those Buddhists and Unitarian Universalists, etc. who do not believe in God remain excluded from the organization, unless they are willing to lie about their religion.

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This topic continues in the next essay.

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References used:

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

  1. "Official statement from The Boy Scouts of America," Boy Scouts of America, 2013-MAY-23, at:
  2. "Boy Scouts of America Press Conference," You Tube, 2013-MAY-23, at:
  3. "Family groups on Boy Scouts’ vote: Expect a mass exodus," OneNewsNow, 2013-MAY-24, at:
  4. "18 Anti-Gay Groups and Their Propaganda," Southern Poverty Law Center, Intelligence Report, Issue #40, Winter 2010. Online at:
  5. "Fischer Flashback: Chances of BSA Voting to End the Ban on Gay Scouts is 'Nonexistent," Right Wing Watch/You Tube, at:
  6. "Boy Scouts: 'Gay' boys will be openly accepted," Associated Press, 2013-MAY-23, at:

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Site navigation:

Home > Religious conflict > U.S. & Worldwide > Boy Scouts > Reconsider gays > here

or Home > Hot topics > Homosexuality & bisexuality > Homophobia > Boy Scouts > Reconsider gays > here

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Copyright © 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance.
Original posting: 2013-MAY-23
Latest updated: 2013-MAY-25
Author: B.A. Robinson

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