Change In Policy. Really?

on April 28, 2013 in council, National, News

LifeRsmallThere has been a lot of press lately that the Boy Scouts of America is about to change its policy on allowing opening gay youth into the organization. In fact, the press likes to make it sound like this is already a done deal. The press makes it sound like the poll conducted by the B.S.A. states that Scouts, parents, leaders and councils overwhelmingly support changing the policy. I decided to bring up the poll results at the website and look at the figures myself. It is not quite as cut and dried as the media is playing this up to be. I am a little bit skeptical. Here are a few statistics from one part of that poll, along with a few of my thoughts:

Parents Study Group and Leaders Study Group

The BSA’s Voice of the Scout Membership Standards Survey was sent to more than 1 million adult members, with over 200,000 respondents. I have been involved with the Scouting program for 33 years, yet I was not contacted to participate in this program. As far as I know, not one person in my troop was contacted. How did the pollsters choose the parents and leaders that were contacted for this poll?

The survey found:
Respondents support the current policy by a 61 percent to 34 percent margin. (I underlined the phrase.) Wow, that is a 17% margin. Presidents have been voted into office by fewer percentage points. Yet the media makes it sound like it is the other way around..
Support for the current policy is higher at different program and volunteer levels in the organization:
50 percent of Cub Scout parents support it; 45 percent of Cub Scout parents oppose. This was closer than I thought it would be.
61 percent of Boy Scout parents support it. This could be true, but I don’t think it is true in my part of the country. Once again I ask how they choose the parents who participated in this survey. Was there a balance from across the nation?
62 percent of unit leaders support it. I know some who do and some who do not.
64 percent of council and district volunteers support it. I know more who are not sure what to decide yet.
72 percent of chartered organizations support it. For some reason, I do not fully believe this figure. It seems high to me when you consider what groups make up a large portion of the chartered organizations.

Local Council Study Group

The Local Council Study Group was charged with listening to the voice of the Boy Scouts of America’s 280 local councils. While many of the conversations centered on a policy that would give chartered organizations the discretion of whether to accept avowed homosexuals to serve as leaders, many groups had concerns about this concept:
50.5 percent of councils recommend no change.
38.5 percent of councils recommend a change.
11 percent take a neutral position.
So, one way to look at this is that 61 percent of councils do not recommend a change to the current policy, almost two thirds of the organization’s councils. When listening to the media I thought that most councils wanted the policy change.

There is a lot more to this poll. Read it yourself at

So what do I think? I am not ready to tell you yet, but here are a couple things that stick in my mind. The B.S.A. does not ask people what their sexually preference is. It is not found anywhere on any application. The only time it comes up is when it is brought up by the person himself, and when it does it becomes a media circus and the gay activists try to use it to their advantage.

I was a scoutmaster for over 30 years. It was not my duty to ask a Boy Scout about his sexual preferences. It was my duty to try to teach him citizenship, leadership, and outdoor skills, and to let him have fun. Did I ever have a gay young man as a member of the troop? Yes, I did. But they did not come out as being gay until after they left high school. Would I have kicked them out of the troop if they mentioned they were gay while still a Scout? I am not sure because it was never an issue, but I would like think I would have allowed them to continue being a Boy Scout as long as they did not give me any other reason to ask them to leave. Keep in mind that the 1980’s and 1990’s were a bit different then today’s world.

I think all boys should be allowed to be a Boy Scout. However, I do not think that any boy, or his parent, should take his membership and turn it into a political issue, which is what I am afraid this issue has become. In my opinion, this takes everything good the Scouting program offers a young man and turns it upside down. Suddenly everyone forgets of all the great things this 100 year old program has done for our youth and our country.  “Don’t ask, don’t tell” worked for the 30 years I was a scoutmaster. I did not ask, they did not tell, and we all enjoyed the time we spent in Scouting. It was not an issue, and it should not be an issue. I wish everyone would just shut up and let us get on with implementing the best Scouting program that we can provide for our youth.

Now, what are my feelings on allowing opening gay men as adult leaders? That is a post for another time.

Last words… I usually stay away from hot topic issues with this blog, but I felt I needed to finally get something out there. I do review every comment before it is posted. That is the best way to keep spam off this blog. I will be reading any comments for this post and if they are civil I may allow them to be added to this post. However, if I feel that they are mean spirited or rude I will trash it. It is my blog, and I will decide what is posted to it.

5 Responses to “Change In Policy. Really?”

  1. John Dominik says:

    I was contacted by the BSA, as was my son. My son didn’t do the survey – it took too long. But I did.

    I feel pretty much the same way you do – a kid’s a kid. Most of them would benefit from the Scouting experience. I don’t know that it makes any difference who they love – I really don’t care. I wish this whole thing would go away so we could focus on the program again, instead of sex and sexuality…

  2. Michael A. Poretsky says:

    I have been an adult leader for more than 50 years, beginning in 1960. I am still very active in the movement on Unit, district and coucil levels.

    I have noted that the issue arises when an individual, such as a lesbian mom or a gay Eagle Scout candidate is expelled from Scouting or refused advancement. My take on this is that this in an issue which would never have reached this level if we focused on the character and ability of the individuals instead of their announced or perceived sexual orientation.

    My Unit, chartered to an Orthodox Jewish congregation, would not register or retain an “avowed homosexual.” It is contrary to our belief that this is a critical moral failing and that such a person does not meet our standards for membership in our unit.

    In my professional life I am in frequent contact with clergy of many faiths and denominations, some of whom believe as I do and some who believe that sexual orientation is irrelevant as a test of a person’s moral fitness. Among those who take the more “liberal” view, there is also a stong belief that excluding anyone from participating in Scouting because of their sexual orientation is, itself, a grave moral failing.

    Just as I would not want anyone to force me to register a person my synagogue feels is not appropriate to our unit, I would not want to tell another organization they may not register a person they feel meets their standards for moral fitness.

    The problem is that this becomes very close to the BSA deciding dogma and belief for chartered organizations. This is contrary to BSA’s own position:

    “No matter what the religious faith of the members may be, this fundamental need of good citizenship should be kept before them. The Boy Scouts of America, therefore, recognizes the religious element in the training of the member, but it is absolutely nonsectarian in its attitude toward that religious training. Its policy is that the home and the organization or group with which the member is connected shall give definite attention to religious life.” (From the BSA Charter and Bylaws, Article IX)


    “Scouting does not seek to impose its beliefs upon others who do not share them.Virtually every religion is represented in Scouting and the BSA does not define
    or interpret God. That is the role of the Scout’s family and religious advisors.

    “Scouting respects those who do not share its beliefs and it would not ask others to alter their faith in any fashion in order to become Scouts. They too are free to follow their own beliefs. Rather, the BSA membership believes that the principles set forth in the Scout Oath and Law are central to the BSA goal of teaching the values of self reliance, courage, integrity, and consideration

    This is basically the answer I gave in my response to the survey.

    Leave this matter in the hands of the chartered organizations and let us get back to Scouting.

  3. Christopher Beaver says:

    I’ve been a reader of this blog for over two years now and have enjoyed hearing about your 30+ years as a Scoutmaster. I hope you stay active with your Troop in any way you can!

    Currently, I’m a Scoutmaster in Madison, WI and grew up with Scouting in both the Atlanta Area Council and New Orleans Area Council (now Southeast Louisiana Council). From what I’ve witnessed Scouting has never had anything to do with sexuality and it still doesn’t. The request by many to change the BSA policy is also not about sexuality. It’s about allowing all Scout-age boys and all adults to become active members.

    What many want is for discrimination based on sexual orientation to be wiped clean of BSA policy. From my point of view, those opposed to a potential change are making this is an issue of sexuality.

    I’ve read countless blogs posts where folks assume that “open and avowed” homosexual Scouts and/or Scouters are automatically going to have sex with other Scouts or Scouters on camping trips. This is, quite frankly, irrational fear.

    Though we have seen that the BSA hasn’t been free of pedophilia, we MUST remember that homosexuality and pedophilia are NOT the same thing. Sex has no place on camping trips or any Scouting event/activity.

    I do agree with you, Steve, and John Dominik that we should not obsess over hypothetical, generalized sexuality statements and get along with the movement of Scouting. What I would like to see is a BSA where all parents and youth are welcomed fully as members regardless of sexual orientation.

    We can argue up and down about the morality of homosexuality but if we’re doing Scouting correctly sexuality doesn’t have a place in what we do. By denying a lesbian mom or gay dad from being a leader we are effectively denying countless Scouting benefits to countless youth. The same goes for denying an Eagle badge from a young gay man.

    Sexuality is not the issue. Acceptance of homosexuality is not the issue. Allowing all to be members is the issue.

  4. Sam Dunkin says:

    Pedophilia and homosexuality are indeed not the same thing. However, they do seem to be joined in the North American Man/Boy Love Association (I could be wrong), and that concerns me greatly. YPT and no-one-on-one contact are preventatives, but letting the foxes into the troop hen house…

  5. Hey Steve.. I was contacted and did respond to the survey. I do think that the poll results are what they say they are. Agree or not.. it is what it is at this point.
    Keep up the great work
    You pal

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