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Boy Scouts take a step forward in allowing gay membership

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The reaffirmation that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) would admit openly gay youth was made by Brad Haddock, a lawyer and member of the national executive board, on Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013. Haddock seemed to be somewhat idealistic with his statement regarding this event.

"My hope is there will be the same effect this Jan. 1 as the Y2K scare. It's business as usual, nothing happens and we move forward."

The biggest sponsor of BSA troops is the Mormon Church, and they are continuing to fund scouting troops. The Catholic Church has reluctantly continued to support scouting troops. The Southern Baptists are more vocal in their opposition, but the local churches have been allowed to continue their association if desired.

There are formal guidelines that restrict the use of BSA uniforms in gay pride marches, and limitations on the distribution of literature within meetings promoting LGBT issues. The idea is to provide equal access and equality for gay youth to the various scouting programs.

There is global interest in this new policy. The Voice of Russia did a very good job of describing the current situation with this decision in an article titled US welcomes gay youth to boy scouts. Lower House Speaker Sergey Naryshkin had this to say regarding the recent laws prohibiting literature that was felt to promote youth homosexuality during the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg on Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2103.

“Russia’s ban on promoting same-sex relations among youngsters has nothing to do with discrimination, because it does not infringe the human rights of lesbian and gay people.”

Trail Life USA offers an alternative organization to BSA. Trail Life USA will have similar programs to BSA, but it will not admit gays into the organization. Trail Life claims a strict adherence to the biblical prohibitions against homosexuality in its programs.

The BSA National Council voted in May, 2013 to allow the admission of gay youth by a 61 to 39 margin. The council has made the following statement regarding sexual conduct within the Boy Scouts.

"Any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting. No member may use Scouting to promote or advance any social or political position or agenda, including on the matter of sexual orientation."

There are several practical issues related to this new policy. The scout camps will have individual stalls for showers and bathrooms. There are discussions about how tents will be allocated. The overall BSA policy appears to admit both boys and girls without regard to sexual orientation. The coed Venturers programs probably does not include the camping setting of the Boy Scouts. If it does, the intermingling of boys and girls in tents will probably be a much more significant issue than same-gender sexual encounters.

This opening of the BSA policy for gays does not extend to leaders. As this program is implemented, there may be new opportunities to include same-gender parents in leadership positions. There is no indication that same-gender couples are involved in soliciting youth for sexual activities or have a higher incidence of predatory activities than the overall population.

This program to admit gay youth will go forward and it will be an overall success. There will be isolated incidents of sexual abuse within the BSA troops, as there are now. The gay youth will be integrated into the Scouting troops as the gay and lesbian adults have been integrated into the overall society.

The decision by the Boy Scouts of America to admit gay youths into their programs is a further step towards acceptance of people as people without regard to sexual orientation. This is “equal protection” as stipulated in the 14th amendment. It will continue the evolution of separating private sexuality from everyday living.

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