Columbia, SC — For more than a century, the Boy Scouts of America has been providing the nation’s foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training. In the past two weeks, scouting has received an outpouring of feedback from the American public regarding a proposal to drop the national membership policy that does not allow avowed homosexuals to be members.
Under the proposal, that decision would be left up to the local sponsors that own and operate scouting. Why the proposed change? The existing policy is in direct conflict with the beliefs of many of our chartered organizations across the country — our own constituency, including countless churches from mainline religious organizations.
While sexual orientation is one of the most complex and divisive issues in society today, we do not have an agenda on the matter, and discussing it is not the role or focus of scouting. However, we have become a focal point in society’s ongoing debate on the issue. It is clear that no single policy will accommodate all viewpoints within scouting. Nor can scouting be the place to resolve divergent viewpoints in society.
After careful consideration and extensive dialogue, the volunteer officers of the Boy Scouts of America’s National Executive Board concluded that due to the complexity of this issue, we need a more deliberate review of our membership policy. The 1,400 voting members of the national council will take action at the national meeting in May.
To be clear, if the change is approved, the Boy Scouts of America would not and could not dictate a position to our sponsors, members or parents. Chartered organizations would approve who can and cannot be a youth member or adult leader of their pack, troop or crew based on their sexual orientation.
America needs scouting, and our policies must be based on what is in the best interest of our nation’s children. We believe good people can disagree and still work together to accomplish great things for youth.
We encourage all in the community and in scouting to stay focused on that which unites us, helping young people grow into good, strong citizens. If you believe in scouting and the values we represent, we urge you to support us through your local program and the Indian Waters Council.
Douglas W. Stone
Scout Executive, Indian Waters
Council, Boy Scouts of America