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KEY SCOUT LEADERS ADVOCATE CHANGING BSA POLICY EXCLUDING GAYS



by Dave Rice, kicked out of the BSA after 59 years because of his belief of inclusion.

After years of working for change in the Boy Scouts of America policy excluding homosexuals, Scouting for All is heartened to note the independent actions by key Scouting volunteers within the BSA organization nationwide who are seeking an end to the discriminatory policy. After introducing a resolution at the June 1, 2001, BSA National Council meeting in Boston, these volunteer leaders are now recruiting more sponsors for the measure. Starting with delegates from nine local BSA councils, they now have doubled their group to include leaders from 18 councils, almost six percent of the councils in the nation, and have written to all 306 council presidents asking them to consider their proposal. The group is achieving progress in making other Scout leaders aware of the what they believe the National Council, BSA must do.

The resolution is simply stated: ³Resolved, that the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America adopt a policy...

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 recognizing that in selecting adult leaders, the chartered organization will also expect compliance with [its] requirements ... for adult leadership positions in programs serving youth.

(³Chartered organization² is the BSA term for the organization which sponsors one or more individual Scout units (Cub Scout packs, Scout troops, Venturer crews, or Sea Scout ships). The BSA has long insisted that the Scouting program belongs to the chartered organization, to operate its Scout units according to its principles.)

Approximately 60 percent of the chartered organizations are religious. Several denominations oppose discrimination based on sexual orientation within Scouting, including the United Church of Christ, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (reform Judaism), the Episcopal Church, the Unitarian Universalist Association, and a branch of the United Methodist Church.

The first nine council delegates to propose the resolution in June were from the Boston Minuteman Council; Cradle of Liberty Council, Philadelphia; West Los Angeles County Council; Greater New York Councils; Chicago Area Council; San Francisco Bay Area Council; Los Angeles Council; Viking Council, Minneapolis; and Orange County Council, California. Council leaders and former leaders of the following councils have since signed on to the resolution: Pacific Skyline Council, San Mateo, California; Piedmont Council, California; Long Beach Area Council; Indianhead Council, St. Paul; Marin Council, California; Great Southwest Council, Albuquerque; Mount Diablo-Silverado Council, Pleasant Hill, California; Baltimore Council; and Ventura County Council, California. Although these leaders state that their endorsements are personal, in many cases they reflect the sentiments of many fellow council board members. Support for this proposal is expected to grow rapidly.

The unpaid volunteer council presidents and chairmen of the board, both present and past, who support the measure generally do so for ideological reasons, seeing it as in accord with Scouting principles, morally correct, a reasonable alternative that respects differences of opinion, and healing of the rift within the BSA. Chartered organizations whose beliefs urge them to accept homosexuals could keep their Scout units, and those whose beliefs require them to exclude homosexuals could continue to do so, but would not be kicked out. They would be able to go to another scout unit. All Scouters would continue to be held to high standards of personal conduct.

Those who wish to advance this cause should urge key volunteer leaders in their local councils, council presidents and chairmen of the board, both past and present, to endorse the resolution.

In general, Scout executives (the paid professional CEOs of the local councils) do not openly state their support of the proposed national resolution, since they are bound by their contracts to uphold current national BSA policies. They also are bearing the brunt of the problems of declining membership (particularly in the Northeast), and declining financial support.


addendum: On February 6, 2002, the BSA came out with its newly adopted resolution condemning gay and atheist youth and adults in scouting. The above resolution was denied as well as the Scouting for All Resolution presented to the BSA in August of '02. It must be noted that the Resolution was not approved by an unanimous vote. There was at least 6 dissenting votes out of about 35 votes - Scott Cozza, Pres. Scouting for All



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