As of January 1, 2014 the Boy Scouts of America will start accepting gay youth in to their ranks. BSA leaders are hoping that the event will go under the radar and not turn in to a huge headline. Most leaders are expressing their optimism that business will run smoothly just as it did after the Y2K scare leading up to 2000 even though numerous church sponsors have pulled out.
“My hope is there will be the same effect this Jan. 1 as the Y2K scare,” said Brad Haddock, a BSA national executive board member who chairs the policy implementation committee. “It’s business as usual, nothing happens and we move forward.”
The BSA has been trying to cover all of their bases and has looked at numerous policies to determine whether any changes need to be made. Some of these include policies on tentmates, showers and whether scouts will be allowed to march in gay pride parades.
According to a document made available by the Boy Scouts:
“On May 23, 2013, a total of 1,232 voting members of the Boy Scouts of America voted on a resolution that maintains its current membership policy for all adult leaders and states that youth may not be denied membership in the BSA on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone. The resolution passed with 757 votes, a 61 percent majority. Through the process, the BSA conducted the most comprehensive listening exercise in its history, gathering perspectives from inside and outside of the Scouting family. There are no plans for further review of this matter.”
The BSA also provided a Frequently Asked Questions portion in the document that tackles qustions that may arise as a result of the new policy:
- Could a Scout march in uniform in a gay-pride parade?
No, says the BSA. “Each youth member is free as an individual to express his or her thoughts or take action on political or social issues but must not use Scouting’s official uniforms and insignia when doing so.”
- How publicly active could a gay Scout be, in terms of gay-rights advocacy?
BSA’s reply: “While a youth member may acknowledge his or her sexual preference, that acknowledgment may not reach the level of distraction, which may include advocacy, promotion, or the distribution of information of a sexual nature.”
- What should a Scout or Scout leader do if a youth with same-sex attraction asks whether they can join Scouting?
Invite them to join and explain the joining requirements. No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of same-sex attraction alone.
- Should there be special arrangements made for showering, swimming, lifeguarding, and changing area?
Personal activity involving bathrooms, showers, hygiene, and dressing are respected as private. A general move toward individual toilet and shower facilities is already underway and individuals needing additional privacy can take appropriate actions on their own or request others to be respectful of their needs. As always, the adult leaders have the discretion to arrange private showering times and locations, as needed. The privacy and security of our youth members is among our top priorities.
BSA appears to be thoroughly prepared to begin implementing the new policy, but only time will tell whether the Boy Scouts continue to run as smoothly and continue to remain as relevant as a key leadership development organization for youth boys.
(H/T: Scouting.org, CBSNews.com)