Little Fallout After BSA Opens Doors to Gay Scouts
January 2, 2014 by Maureen McCarty, HRC Associate Director of Digital Media
Yesterday the Boy Scouts of America officially opened the proud tradition of scouting to gay members, though the ban on gay and lesbian troop leaders continues.
Because religious organizations make up over 70 percent of the BSA’s sponsors, many feared a “mass exodus” following the May 2013 policy change.
However, despite few concerns, the policy change was widely supported, including by religious leaders, and produced few consequences. In fact, according to BSA spokesman Deron Smith, less than 2 percent of sponsoring members left their scouting unit.
The U.S. Catholic Church, which is BSA’s third-largest sponsor and accounts for 10 percent of the national total of 2.6 million Scouts, released a statement in June, urging sponsors and leaders to continue their support of scouting programs.
“We should be encouraged that the change in BSA’s youth membership standard is not in conflict with Catholic teaching,” Martin said, asking that “Catholic Scouters and chartered organization heads not rush to judgment.”
In April, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the largest sponsor of scouting troops in the nation, offered their stamp of approval to the end of the ban on openly gay scouts.
Under the new policy, the religious, civic or educational organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would determine membership and leadership consistent with each organization’s mission, principles or religious beliefs.
Though HRC applauds the historic step forward, the BSA failed to go far enough, still leaving adult Eagle Scouts, scout leaders, and parents behind. Currently, the BSA job application for “professional commission” explicitly says gays need not apply. The application, which comes from the BSA’s national office and appears to be in use across the country, reads: "The Boy Scouts of America will not employ atheists, agnostics, known or avowed homosexuals.” The full application can be viewed here.
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