The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) will vote on whether or not to welcome gay scouts and leaders next week. The proposed Membership Standards Resolution to be voted on reads, “No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone,” but the organization “will maintain the current membership policy for all adult leaders.” More Light Presbyterians has called on the BSA to welcome both youth members and adult leaders in the future policy.
In Religion & Ethics Newsweekly on PBS, correspondent Deborah Potter says, “The policy change proposed by the Boy Scouts of America would affect more than two-and-a-half million boys. Most of them—70 percent—belong to troops that are sponsored by religious organizations.”
Commenting in favor of the change, Rev. Charles Parker of Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church in Washington, DC offers this important insight:
I think the scouts are actually wrestling with the same thing the church is wrestling with in terms of an erosion of membership over the years, and if they really want to communicate to a new generation of folks, my son is not going to understand bigotry towards homosexuals and wouldn’t be part of a group that was bigoted. So if we want a new generation of scouts, we’ve got to do this.
The interviews include the story of Pascal Tessier, an openly gay scout who fears exclusion from the BSA because of his sexual orientation. He is on the verge of earning the rank of Eagle Scout. “Right now I’m on the line. I could get a letter any day saying I’m not part of scouts anymore.” This is the kind bigotry that a whole new generation of scouts will not understand.
The resolution that the Scouts are voting on clearly is not fully adequate. It still sends, I think, potentially harmful messages to the youth — both gay and straight — about discrimination being OK. That being said, I think it’s absolutely a step in the right direction, which is going to get started going down their path of evolution, as it were. And we all kind of know where evolution goes. As a Boy Scout, our motto is “Be Prepared.” So we’re prepared for any kind of outcome, but we are feeling really, really good about where we are.
There are three actions you can take this weekend:
Coffee Hour at Church: Speak to five people about your hopes that the anti-gay ban is completely lifted for both adults and youth. GLAAD offers the following tips:
What should you talk about?
First of all: LISTEN. Ask them what they think about the Boy Scouts’ policy of excluding gay scouts and leaders
Tell a personal story about being LGBT or an LGBT ally
Tell why you care about lifting the ban on gay Scouts and gay parents as volunteers in Scouting
If applicable, tell your experience with Scouting
Ask them to pray throughout the week that the spirit of inclusion will rest upon the voting delegates at the Boy Scouts meeting
Real change of the heart and mind happens when people are able to talk and listen to one another. Perhaps someone hasn’t thought about the Boy Scouts policy before, or feel like they don’t know enough to make a decision. You might be that person that helps them to see that opening the scouts to all is the right thing to do.
Tell us how it went at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit Scouts for Equality. Take Action!