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Activist Groups Urge Obama to Reject Boy Scout Honor

From Fox News:

Activist groups, including Scouting for All, urge President Obama not to accept the honorary Presidency of the Boy Scouts of America until they stop discriminating.

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Indian Head Council, St. Paul, Minnesota

This resolution was presented at the last National Council meeting (San Diego) in May 1999, and referred to the Relationships Division which meets in October. It calls for a commission to study diversity in the BSA to be formed, representative of the different constituencies in Scouting (churches, schools, government, civic organizations, etc), to explore the BSA membership requirements in light of the situation today.

This resolution was obtained per a posting in the discussion group Rec.Scouting.Issues and was proposed by The St. Paul MN Indian Head Council to revisit membership requirements for Boy Scouts. This council has proposed "that the executive board of the National Council, BSA establish a representative commission to examine the relevance and appropriateness of the present membership requirements for traditional BSA programs and report its findings to the executive board in the year 2000.

BSA Proposed Resolution

Resolved, that the executive board of the National Council Boy Scouts of America, establish a representative commission to examine the relevance and appropriateness of the present membership requirements for traditional BSA programs and report its findings to the executive board in the year 2000.

Explanatory Statement

Since 1910 Scouting has served as a positive, unifying force, bringing together many faiths and viewpoints to fulfill a common mission: instilling the values of the Scout Oath and Law in young people.

Present membership standards for "traditional" BSA programs deny membership to any youth or leader who identifies himself or herself as homosexual. While there is no expressed requirement that a prospective Scout or Scout leader identify himself or herself as heterosexual, the current practice is to deny membership to any youth or adult who admits to homosexual orientation.

National administrative policy of the Boy Scouts interprets the provision of the Scout Oath requiring a Scout to be "morally straight" as being antithetical to homosexual orientation. In other words, according to present interpretations, a homosexual person cannot be "morally straight." Many others in the Scouting movement have interpreted these terms to refer to proper behavior rather than a
definition of a person's sexual orientation. This interpretation holds that it is a person's behavior that should be assessed in determining whether one is "morally straight."

Many other youth organizations and charitable service groups, as well as business and government, base their employment or membership policies on standards of sexual *behavior* rather than on sexual *orientation*.

The chartering organizations of traditional BSA programs are a broad and diverse group. Many are religious institutions that proscribe homosexual orientation as immoral. Others proscribe homosexual conduct as immoral. Still others accept homosexual orientation as an existent condition within the general population. Many traditional chartered organizations, religious and secular, advocate maintaining existing membership requirements, as do many parents of Scouting youth.

The present Boy Scout membership policy is the subject of litigation. It is being challenged by both private and public institutions that historically have supported the Boy Scout program. Businesses and foundations that have been sources of substantial financial support have questioned the continuation of
such a policy, and the United Way in some communities has withdrawn financial support or threatened to withdraw future backing.

This challenged to traditional BSA membership standards must be viewed in the context of fundamental Scout principles that urge us to value and respect human diversity and to defend the rights of others to practice their own beliefs.

Whether sexual orientation is an elective lifestyle or determined by genetic disposition (or both), is being debated in the medical and scientific professions and among religious leaders and sociologists. Information and knowledge on this issue is expanding rapidly. It is being examined at all levels
of society--among private and public institutions, from business and industry to government and the military, from churches and synagogues to public schools and private colleges, from golf clubs to fraternal lodges and service clubs. In these circumstances, the BSA cannot avoid the challenge of such introspection.

It is the proponents' purpose in submitting this resolution to initiate a deliberative process whereby all traditional membership requirements will be examined, where positions will be studied and recommendations made to sustain a robust BSA program for future generations.

It is the proponents' view that without such a deliberative process, membership standards may ultimately be dictated by the courts or by the most powerful or most vocal among BSA's constituencies. Further delay in addressing this issue may result in the diminution of Scouting's leadership as one of the nation's most effective character-building programs for youth.

Implementation Suggestions

Following are suggestions for the composition and operation of the commission. These suggestions should not be construed to in any way limit or restrict the National Council, BSA in establishing its own criteria for the commission or to in any way limit the commission from establishing its own
procedural rules:

1. The commission should consist of representatives from various BSA constituencies, particularly those which have had sustained involvement in the traditional program.

2. Membership on the commission should consist of men and women in leadership positions in business, government, professions and such other persons the board deems appropriate.

3. The commission should examine the consequences of maintaining present membership requirements upon chartered organizations, future financial support, public school cooperation, use of public facilities for meetings and camping, United Way support and such other issues the commission may deem appropriate.

4. The commission should examine the scientific and medical basis for the determination of sexual orientation and the effect of homosexual orientation upon youth in dealing with their own sexuality. It should seek objective expert opinions and review available medical and scientific literature and current religious doctrine.

5. The commission should examine the moral and religious basis for defining homosexuality as a moral issue and the effect upon BSA if homosexuals are admitted into membership.

The commission should be staffed with personnel from the National BSA Office and an appropriate budget should be appropriated for meeting and travel expense and other expenses incidental to its work .



Scouting For All is not an alternative scouting program.
We are an education and advocacy organization reaching out to gay and nontheist youth and adults in our effort to get the Boy Scouts of America to rescind its exlusionary policy.

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