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Nine Scout Councils Request BSA National to Stop Discrimination Against Gays


April 27, 2001

To: The Resolutions Committee
Boy Scouts of America, National Council
1325 West Walnut Hill Lane
P. O. Box 152079
Irving, Texas, 75015-2079
Atten: Helen Rey

In our individual capacities as members of the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America, we hereby submit the attached resolution for consideration at the Annual Meeting of Boy Scouts of America on June 1, 2001. The first sentence of the resolution may be used as a brief description of its purpose.


Respectfully submitted,

Dick DeWolfe, President, Boston Minuteman Council
Tom Lynch, Chairman of the Board, Cradle of Liberty Council, Philadelphia
Rick Gables, President, West Los Angeles County Council
John McGillicuddy, President, Greater New York Councils
Lew Greenblatt, President, Chicago Area Council
Wayne Moon, President, San Francisco Bay Area Council
John Harbison, President, Los Angeles Council
Tom Morgan, President, Viking Council, Minneapolis
Mike Harrison, Past Chairman of the Board, Orange County Council, California

RESOLUTION OFFERED TO THE BSA BY 9 Scout Councils

RESOLVED, that the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America adopt a policy, substantially in the form set forth below, (i) stating that membership and leadership positions are open to persons regardless of their sexual orientation, subject to compliance with Scouting's standards of conduct, but (ii) recognizing that in selecting adult leaders, the Chartered Organization will also expect compliance with the requirements of the Chartered Organization for adult leadership positions in programs serving youth.

Boy Scouts of America Statement Regarding Matters of Sexuality
("Statement" is the rationale for the resolution.)

As reflected in the Scout Oath and Scout Law, the Boy Scouts of America has established high standards of conduct for its members and adult leaders.

Sexual promiscuity, inappropriate sexual behavior, inappropriate discussion of matters of sexuality, and/or the use of Scouting as a forum for discussion of, or advocacy of particular views with respect to, matters of sexuality are inconsistent with these standards. Overt sexual behavior of any kind is inappropriate in a Scouting activity.

Membership and adult leadership positions in the Boy Scouts of America are open to persons regardless of their sexual orientation, subject to compliance with Scouting's standards of conduct. The Boy Scouts of America does not inquire about the sexual orientation of its members and adult leaders, nor does it inquire about the sexual orientation of prospective members and adult leaders in the course of recruitment and registration.

The Boy Scouts of America recognizes that in selecting adult leaders, the Chartered Organization will expect compliance, not only with Scouting's standards of conduct, but also with the requirements of the Chartered Organization for adult leadership positions in programs serving youth.

The Boy Scouts of America also recognizes that Scouts do ask their adult leaders questions regarding matters of sexuality. Consistent with The Scoutmaster Handbook, an adult leader should react to such questions with understanding and respect but encourage Scouts to look to their parents or guardians, religious leaders and health care providers for guidance in this
area. The Scouting program does not provide sex education or counseling.

Questions about sexual orientation can be particularly sensitive and should be handled in a manner that does not address the issue in terms of morality. If asked about sexual orientation it is reasonable for an adult leader to explain that: . A Scout should consider the teachings of his religious faith and the beliefs of his parents or guardians in determining his own views on this issue; and . Regardless of his own views, a Scout should treat all people with respect, regardless of their sexual orientation.

Appendix to Statement Regarding Matters of Sexuality
("Appendix" contains some supporting quotations from Scout literature.)

Set forth below are extracts from various publications of the Boy Scouts of America addressing morality, maintenance of a secure environment for boys, selection of adult leaders by Chartered Organizations, the role of the Scoutmaster in responding to questions regarding sexuality, and related matters.

Extract from the Boy Scout Handbook, 11th Edition, 1998, page 46

The explanation of the Scout Oath includes the following statement:
Morally Straight: To be a person of strong character, your relationships with others should be honest and open. You should respect and defend the rights of all people. Be clean in your speech and actions, and remain faithful in your religious beliefs. The values you practice as a Scout will help you shape a life of virtue and self-reliance.

Extract from the Scoutmaster Handbook, 7th Edition, 1981, page 102

What you consider moral or immoral depends on your upbringing and background. Moral questions often fail to come out nice and neat. . . . Despite the moral contradictions, we cannot let boys go unprepared to face the assorted moral crises that will confront them. They must go prepared-but with what? As evidence of a boy's ability to act correctly when faced with a moral decision you might look for: 1) Courage about what he believes. Being called "chicken" doesn't divert him from doing what he believes is right-or not doing what he believes is wrong. For example he resists the urging of his peers to experiment with smoking, drugs and alcohol; 2) Respecting the rights of others; 3) Compassion for other's feelings and needs; 4) Acting as if the
rights of others matter to him; and 5) Accepting others as equal in worth and dignity.

Extract from the Scoutmaster Handbook, 1998 edition, revised 2000, page 6

Scouting - A Values-Based Program
Scouting offers boys an environment in which everyone can feel secure both physically and emotionally. That sense of security comes from Scoutmasters and other adult leaders . Setting an example for themselves and others by living the Scout Oath and Law to the best of their abilities. . Refusing to tolerate name-calling, put-downs, discrimination, or any form of physical
aggression. . Communicating their acceptance of boys by taking a real interest in each Scout. . Using the Scouting program to create a setting based on learning and fun. They seek the best from each Scout and do all they can to allow him to achieve it.

Extracts from BSA pamphlet # 18-981, 2000, Selecting Quality Leaders
Message to Chartered Organizations

Your organization has joined with the Boy Scouts of America to deliver a program of citizenship training, character development, and personal fitness to young men of your community. Critical to the success of your Scouting program is the selection of quality leaders who represent the values of the Boy Scouts of America and your organization. The chartered organization has the responsibility for the selection of these individuals.

* * *
Characteristics of Successful Scoutmasters and Coaches [partial list] .

  • Commitment to the ideals of Scouting
  • High moral standards

* * *
Reference Check Guidelines [partial list] .

  • Ask the reference about the applicant's positive attributes--why would the individual make a good Scout leader?
  • Ask the reference to describe personal observations of the applicant interacting with children.
  • Ask if the applicant has any qualities relating to the welfare of children about which the committee should be concerned.
  • Are there any reasons the reference could explain that the applicant should be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America?

Extract from the Scoutmaster Handbook, 1998 edition, revised 2000, page 132

When it comes to sexual issues, a Scoutmaster's responsibility is the same as for all other circumstances facing boys - to ensure that the troop is a supportive environment for them both physically and emotionally. Scoutmasters who have established a relationship of trust with troop members and who are willing to listen carefully and compassionately to what boys are saying have the best chance of understanding the Scout's concerns - sexuality included - and the greatest success in providing them with guidance that will have real meaning. By their own example and through encouragement from others, Scout Leaders can steer Scouts away from vulgar jokes, disrespectful skits, inappropriate literature (which should be destroyed without a "display"), or other forms of negativity that denigrate people based on their gender or sexuality. Such behavior is not in keeping with the Scout Oath and Law and should not be tolerated in a troop. Scoutmasters must keep in mind that boys should learn about sex from their parents, guardians, or others empowered by their families to guide them. No Scoutmaster should undertake to teach Scouts, in any formalized manner, about sexual behavior. If a Scout comes to you with questions of a sexual nature, answer them as honestly as you can and, whenever it is appropriate, encourage him to share his concerns with his parents or guardian, spiritual leader, or a medical expert.



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