16 December 2015

BSA Bans Gay Advocacies

Boy Scouts of America
After losing most of their members to emerging groups such as Trail Life USA, the Boy Scouts of America decided recently to revise its rules to emphasize a duty to God and ban political advocacy. This means that organizers who are applying for a troop with unwanted Gay leaders will not be entertained.

The changes come at the end of a turbulent year that saw the organization lift a blanket ban on gay leaders only to see its membership reduced to historical low.

Boy Scouts executive in the scouting stronghold of Utah said the revisions show that the organization's values remain intact.

The Boy Scouts' doors are open, but new troop applications must now be approved by a national body, not locally, Great Salt Lake Council Scout Executive Rick Barnes said.

"We're being very careful on how we do this with charters," he said. "We want to make sure that organizations are willing to follow our policy."

Utah is home to the nation's largest sponsor of Boy Scout units, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

There are about 427,000 boys in Mormon church-sponsored troops, accounting for about 18 percent of all youth Scouts.

Church leaders said they were deeply troubled by the decision to allow gay troop leaders and had considered leaving the organization. They decided to stay after assurances that the organization would allow church-sponsored Scout units to maintain the exclusion for religious reasons, church leaders said.

The change nevertheless caused tension. The leaders of the Orem-based The Utah National Parks Council, which serves about 90,000 Scouts south of Salt Lake County, said last month they were facing staff layoffs after donations dropped substantially.

Barnes said he's heard concerns about the end of the blanket ban, but the revisions to the Scouting Code of Conduct and new troop applications made public Monday reinforce the organization's commitment to its core tenets.

The revised rules also require prospective troop organizers to confirm that leaders haven't been convicted of abuse or other offenses, and to pledge that religious faith will be a guiding principle for their troops.

"Some people think that we've caved in our values, but we haven't," he said. "We're not going to judge them on a label, we're going to judge them on their behavior."