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Religious Tolerance logo

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

Reactions by Scouts for Equality, Citizenlink,
and the Alliance Defending Freedom

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This topic is a continuation from the previous essay.

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Reactions by Scouts for Equality (SFE):

As their name implies, they favor allowing youth members and adult leaders with a gay, lesbian, or bisexual orientation to join the BSA.

During 2013-APR, they made available information on the BSA's 2013 Voice of the Scouts (VOS) survey. This is an internal BSA poll that the BSA uses to understand where their Scouts, parents of scouts, volunteers and chartering organizations in the U.S. stand on important scouting matters. The VOS survey determined that over 90% of the survey comments indicated that the BSA's decision in 2012 to continue its ban on gay, lesbian and gay youth has harmed local Scouting units. Also, 95% of the 3,444 comments written by the individuals polled stated that the 2012 decision negatively impacted their loyalty to the organization. 1 The summary shows that:

  • 97% of the 1,325 comments from boy scouts and their parents stated that "the reaffirmation of the membership policy [in 2012] negatively impacted their loyalty."

  • 95% of the volunteers felt similarly.

  • A typical comment from an unidentified charter organization was quoted in the survey report:

    "The Boy Scout policy on gay and lesbian adults and their children is a barrier for me to recommend your organization to others." 2

The United Church of Christ has endorsed Scouts for Equality. In their joint statement they wrote, in part:

"God’s table is open to everyone. We embrace the God-given worth and dignity of all people and are committed to the value of extravagant welcome where everyone has a place at the table. We cannot support a policy that limits the diversity of BSA membership any more than we can deny the interconnected web of faith that unites us all in the eyes of God. Adopting an inclusive membership policy and supporting all youth is the right thing to do.

The BSA has welcomed many people from many backgrounds, and we look forward to the day that our gay and bisexual brothers and sisters are welcome as scouts and as leaders. We stand with Scouts for Equality and ask the BSA to end its policy of exclusion.

Quote from Rev. Michael Schuenemeyer, UCC executive and minster for LGBT concerns:

'Citizenship, a core value of scouting, includes honoring and protecting the worth and dignity of every person. The discriminatory membership policies of the Boy Scouts of America violate these values and should be changed. The BSA should honor its values of respecting the diversity of theological teachings that exist among the broad spectrum of faith groups that participate, including the UCC’s values of extravagant welcome and inclusion'." 3

The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) has also endorsed Scouts for Equality. The UUA is perhaps the most liberal and progressive organized faith group in the U.S. In their joint statement they wrote, in part:

"... the UUA stands with Scouts for Equality in asking the BSA to accept gay youth and parents regardless of sexual orientation. We welcome the UUA’s support of equality and inclusiveness in the BSA.

As an organization of faith and spirituality, the UUA exemplifies what it means to honor the inherent worth and to nurture spiritual growth of all people. Similarly, the BSA has a long history of standing by these same guiding principles; even the father of the Scouting movement, Lord Robert Baden-Powell, said “the sport in Scouting is to find the good in every boy and develop it.” By accepting all youth who are willing to live by Scouting’s principles into the BSA, we are able to follow his vision." 3

Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout and the founder of Scouts for Equality issued a statement about the proposed 2013-APR change in BSA membership standards:

"Scouts for Equality supports the Boy Scouts of America’s proposal to end its ban on gay youth nationwide as it is a crucial step and we will work to encourage members of the National Council to vote to approve it. But we will continue to fight to push discrimination out of Scouting once and for all. For families like mine, the BSA’s ban on gay leaders will continue to prevent many great and loving parents from sharing the joys of Scouting with their children. But today, this is about the kids, and we are glad that the Boy Scouts of America is taking this historic step forward." 4

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Reaction by Citizenlink:

CITIZENLink is an affiliate of Focus on the Family, a fundamentalist Christian organization opposed to abortion access, marriage equality, and equal rights for the LGBT community.

They note that the legislatures of three states. Arizona, Ohio and Tennessee have passed resolutions "supporting the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) policy requiring that members agree with its core values." But the BSA has always required members to agree with its core values in the past and presumably will continue this in the future. What the BSA executive committee has proposed is that the BSA drop discrimination and exclusion of youth members based on their sexual orientation.

Their article states:

"The organization’s National Executive Board is scheduled to vote May 22-23 on whether to let openly gay men serve as Scout leaders." 5

This is factually incorrect:

  • The current policy is to not allow openly gay men or women to serve as leaders. The policy is also to expel any such leaders whenever they are found. The proposed change to the membership requirements, as approved by the BSA executive committee, would not change this exclusion.

  • The vote on MAY-22-23 will be by the approximately 1,400 delegates who form theBoy Scouts National Council, not the non-existent National Executive Board.

The article quotes John Stemberger, founder of, as saying:

"We agree with these states and support the current policy of Scouting, which allows anyone to participate irrespective of sexual orientation, only disallowing the open and aggressive promotion of homosexuality and political agendas. Sex and politics should stay out of the Boy Scouts." 5

This statement conflicts with the Findings of fact, in a DC court case which found:

"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." 6

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Reaction by the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF):

The ADF: "... coordinates legal efforts with thousands of allied attorneys and hundreds of Christian legal and policy organizations by developing overarching strategy and providing critical resources to achieve victory in important cases."

The ADF seeks signatures on its petition to the leadership of the BSA. The ADF wrote:

"For over a century, the Boy Scouts have represented the essence of what makes America great: our belief in God, our self-determination, our service to others, and a shared set of moral values. Among those values is the belief that open homosexuality is incompatible with being 'morally straight' and honoring God.  For that reason, the Scouts have maintained membership standards that align with their moral principles. But now, the Boy Scouts of America leadership is facing intense pressure from activist groups to abandon its founding principles and open its doors to membership and leadership by homosexuals.

It would be detrimental for the leadership to betray those moral principles and radically change the Boy Scouts. Alliance Defending Freedom sent a letter to the Boy Scouts National Board and the leaders of over 300 Boy Scout councils advising them of the avalanche of legal ramifications that could result if leadership fails to protect individual troops. Now the Boy Scouts need to hear from you.

Organizations like the Scouts have the right to operate according to their values." 7

The ADF is correct that the BSA has the right to discriminate against girls, women, non-theists, and the LGBT community in their membership rules. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the BSA had this right as a private non-profit agency.

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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. "2012 Fall Voice of the Scout," Scouts for Equality, 2013-MAR, at:
  2. "Voice of the Scout executive summary, 2012 fall survey," Boy Scouts of America, can be downloaded at:
  3. "United Church of Christ & Unitarian Universalists Endorsements," Scouts for Equality, 2013-MAR-25, at:
  4. "Statement from Scouts for Equality Regarding the BSA’s Resolution," Scouts for Equality, 2013-APR-19, at:
  5. Bethany Monk, "Take Action: 3 States Pass Resolutions Supporting Boy Scouts Policy" CITIZENLink, 2013-APR-13, at:
  6. "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
  7. "Defending Scout's Honor," Alliance Defending Freedom, undated, at:

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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-APR-21
Latest updated: 2013-APR-29
Author: B.A. Robinson

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