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Religious Tolerance logo

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

2013-APR: Reaction by Bloomberg View's blog,
and their readers.

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This topic is a continuation from the previous essay.

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2013-APR-22: Reactions on "The Ticker," part of Bloomberg View's blog:

"The Ticker" is Bloomberg View's blog "dedicated to quick commentary on economics, politics and global affairs."

Writer Lisa Beyer commented:

"First, [the Boy Scouts] ... said it would preserve its policy of excluding homosexuals, which enraged liberals. Then it said it was considering abolishing the policy, which infuriated conservatives.

Now, the organization wants to split the difference and admit gay boys while barring gay leaders. Predictably, that's angered just about everyone. More important, such a policy ... sends a disturbing message to the gay children now putatively welcome to become Scouts: Come on in, we accept you as you are, just as long as you don't grow up.

The policy emerged after a survey found that although a majority of adults involved with scouting supported the practice of excluding gays, younger parents and teenagers wanted to abolish it. The Boy Scouts are right to worry about this subset given the organization's decreasing cultural relevance as evidenced by decades of declining membership.

The survey also turned up concern among adults about child safety if homosexuals were allowed to become scout leaders. In other words, the poll produced evidence of bigotry. That should have been clear enough to the Scouts given that the experts they consulted informed them that being gay is not a risk factor for child abuse.

The myth of the gay man as pedophile is to be expected: Prejudice dies hard. The scandal is that the Scouts, an organization devoted to building leaders and developing character, gave in to it. The organization is apparently worried that the Mormon and Roman Catholic churches, big sponsors of scout groups, would withdraw support. Yet it's unfathomable that any organization would kowtow to the Catholic Church on an issue of child protection today. ..." 1

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Ms. Beyer's article produced some interesting reaction from readers:

  • "Bike Guy" wrote:

    "The media have missed how much this ban is really about a Mormon stealth takeover of what used to be a non-sectarian organization. The ban was implemented in 1992 mainly under Mormon pressure after the Mormons had made BSA their boys’ youth group. Mormons hold a theological hatred of homosexuality given their unique belief in celestial marriages. Mormons, only 2% of the population, today control over one third of all BSA troops. The vast majority of Mormon troops are 100% Mormon with all boys in a Mormon ward automatically enrolled (not girls, of course). Mormons blackmailed the Scouts with withdrawal during the BSA vs. Dale arguments in 2000.

    Mormon troops even hold religious services, effectively making the Scouting experience a church. This is completely contrary to Scouting’s original non-sectarian mission.

    I was a Scout in NYC in the 60s and 70s and tolerance ruled. We were Jews, Chinese, Protestants, Blacks and we didn't meet at a church. The focus was on nature and the outdoors. I honestly did not think of the Scouts as a particularly religious group. All families were welcome and no one was banned.

    Scouting was founded as a non-sectarian organization. I quote Scouting’s founder, Lord Baden Powell:

    'Buddha has said: 'There is only one way of driving out Hate in the world and that is by bringing in 
Love.' Scouting's aim is to produce healthy, happy, helpful citizens, of both sexes, to eradicate the prevailing narrow self interest, personal, political, SECTARIAN [emphasis mine] and national, and to substitute for it a broader spirit of self-sacrifice and service in the cause of humanity.'

    Other Scouting nations have kept Scouts non-sectarian as have the Girl Scouts. They do not exclude gay men and gay teens in Canada, France, Mexico, Australia, or elsewhere, including the UK where Scouting was founded.

    The proportion of funds from conservative churches keeps going up while corporate and other secular donors are dropping the American Boy Scouts like flies: Intel, UPS, Merck have all withdrawn funding and more will come. This new proposal will only further encourage this transition towards conservative dominance.

    BSA must decide whether they are the Boy Scouts of Christian Conservatives or the Boy Scouts of America, for all Americans. Let’s hope that they make the right choice."

  • Anthony Eitnter:

    "I think it is pretty clear that it's time for reasonable parents to pull their kids out of the Boy Scouts. It's an outdated institution with an outdated ethic. There are more progressive options out there for kids (boys and girls, gay and straight). I had the common sense to pull myself out when I was 10 (33 years ago) because I found that I needed something with higher standards, less indoctrination, and more inclusiveness."

  • "Econ Enthusiast:"

    "Why doesn't the LGBT community create their own scouting program if there's such a demand for it? My goodness, its a private organization. Create something new instead of putting the pressure on something that you don't agree with. Oh wait, that is actually harder to do than sit on a computer and ridicule an organization that most of these people know little to nothing about. If you make a bigger, better organization, people will continue to have a CHOICE - which is what all of these arguments are based on anyway.

  •  Zach Leach:

    "As an eagle scout, my support for this organization will be a continual lifelong pursuit.  I'm definitely in favor of inclusion of ALL people into the organization, and do not care if there is a Boy Scout troop led by a gay scout master.

    What I do care about is the organization.  I would hate to see it fail because of interests that are inherently belligerent to the organization.  Sadly, as is the case with large corporations, the stakeholders may be many, but most CEO's only care about one thing, the stockholder.  They would layoff every loyal staff member and pull out of their hometown before the stockholder is effected.  Those with intelligence in the media need to understand how complicated this issue is, and need not take sides.  The stakeholders are many, and while I would be proud to be an Eagle Scout regardless, I would be very sad to see the organization go. 

    The media seemingly is at a point with this issue where they are walking the organization off the plank.

  • Awohali Ayegali, responding to Zach Leach:

    "Well Zach, then as an Eagle Scout, you have just voided your oath to stay morally straight and to be clean as the Scout law states. So as an Eagle Scout myself, I feel that scouting would be or will be voiding the oath a scout takes. So why have an oath or law if you don't even plan to keep it!"

  • "5280broncosfan:"

    "Here's the major flaw with the author's argument: The Boy Scouts could literally be destroyed if religious organizations stop funding them because of the inclusion of gay boys/men. You can hate the rule/viewpoint all you want, but the bottom line is the BSA can't take a hit like that. It's comes down to the majority (straight people) vs the minority (gay people) and if one major religious organization pulled it's support, the rest would follow. It would be sad if this organization folded because a particular group had to have it's way. The LGBT needs to realize that people are different and its not worth destroying a great organization, with a long history of helping/teaching children, just to prove a point that they have influence. If they want a BSA so much, create a new one and compete for members, but they won't do it because the LGBT is hell bent on getting their way regardless of who it damages." 1

  • "Bike Guy," responding to "5280broncosfan:"

    "Actually most religious groups will see that the end of the ban will be a big yawn, like Don't Ask, Don't Tell. To the contrary Scouting may grow again as it emerges from all this controversy."

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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. Lisa Beyer, "Boy Scouts to Gays: Come In but Don't Grow Up," Bloomberg View, 2013-APR-22, 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-29
Latest updated: 2013-APR-29
Author: B.A. Robinson

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