Straight from the Dead Horses Mouth

I am posting this just for clarification.  I will not debate this nor will I further the discussion about it.  The reason I am posting this is that there seems to be some confusion as to what the policy change says and will mean.
The discussion on values, while some will continue to argue and many faith based organizations will not concur, is not on the table.
Without further ado…
From a letter on Scout Wire authored by Gary Butler Assistant Chief Scout Executive, a man that I have personally met and believe has a love for Scouting and the Scouting movement and a man of faith and a good heart:

Effective Jan. 1, 2014, the youth membership policy will be:
Membership in any program of the Boy Scouts of America requires the youth member to (a) subscribe to and abide by the values expressed in the Scout Oath and Scout Law, (b) subscribe to and abide by the precepts of the Declaration of Religious Principle (duty to God), and (c) demonstrate behavior that exemplifies the highest level of good conduct and respect for others and is consistent at all times with the values expressed in the Scout Oath and Scout Law. No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.
What This Means
It is imperative to clearly understand what this policy means along with what changes and what does not change.
What has not changed:
The mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law. Scouting’s vision is to serve every eligible youth in America, and this policy would allow it to serve more kids and focus on their development.
The Scout Oath begins with duty to God, and the Scout Law ends with a Scout’s obligation to be reverent, and that will always remain a core value of the Boy Scouts of America.
Any sexual conduct, whether homosexual or heterosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting.
The BSA handbook defines morally straight as, “Scouts should be clean in speech and actions and faithful in religious beliefs,” and a clean Scout as “someone who keeps his body and mind fit, chooses friends who also live by high standards, and helps keep his home and community clean.”
Members must demonstrate behavior that exemplifies the highest level of good conduct and respect for others and is consistent at all times with the values expressed in the Scout Oath and Scout Law.
The BSA has stringent polices that protect the safety and privacy of youth and adult members and has always worked to ensure that it is a supportive and safe environment for young people (www.bsayouthprotection.org).
The organization will maintain its current membership policy for all adult leaders and within the framework of this policy chartering organizations have the right and responsibility to choose their own unit leaders. The Boy Scouts of America fully supports our chartered organizations.
What has changed:
Youth are still developing, learning about themselves and who they are, developing their sense of right and wrong, and  understanding their duty to God to live a moral life. Accordingly, a youth member simply stating he or she is attracted to the same sex, but not engaging in sexual activity, does not make them ineligible for membership.
Frequently Asked Questions
Understandably, a change to the BSA policy raises many questions among parents and unit-serving volunteers. The following are FAQs and answers
1. Is the BSA endorsing homosexuality and forcing its chartered organizations to do the same?
No. That is not the role of the organizations, and Scouting is not the place to resolve divergent viewpoints in society. By reinforcing that Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting, and that no member may use Scouting to promote or advance any social or political position or agenda, this policy rightly recognizes there is a difference between kids and adults while remaining true to the long-standing virtues of Scouting.
2. If a chartered organization does not agree with allowing gay members, can it deny them
membership or defer them to another unit?
No. Effective Jan. 1, 2014, no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone. However, any sexual conduct, whether homosexual or heterosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting. As they always have, chartered organizations can require members to demonstrate behavior that exemplifies the highest level of good conduct and respect for others and is consistent at all times with the values expressed in the Scout Oath and Scout Law.
3. How does the BSA define “morally straight”?
The BSA handbook defines morally straight as, “Scouts should be clean in speech and actions and faithful in religious beliefs,” and a clean Scout as “someone who keeps his body and mind fit, chooses friends who also live by high standards, and helps keep his home and community clean.” Any sexual conduct, whether homosexual or heterosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting.
Well… that’s it.  I am sorry for the lengthy quote, but this one had to come directly from the document that will govern this issue.  If you would like to see the actual letter.  Here is the link.  http://scout-wire.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Membership-Standards-Update-Implementation-Phase.pdf
We will lose some folks.  And for that I feel bad.  I have already lost one of the best Assistant Scoutmasters in the Boy Scouts of America.  His faith, while him and I disagree on how it is applied, will not him stay in Scouting.  I am saddened by the loss of him and his family.  But I will go on and so will Scouting.
I think folks need to read the policy and how it is to be applied before they jump ship.
**Just a note… the Dead horse in the Title is NOT to be confused as the Boy Scouts of America or Gary Butler.. it is intended to represent this issue.
Have a Great Scouting Day!

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Categories: blog, Values | Tags: , | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Straight from the Dead Horses Mouth

  1. Might be splitting hairs with you, but for clarification, unless they change Article XI, Section 3 Clause 8 of BSA’s Rules and Regulations (2007 version), “it is for the units to determine on the basis of considerations such as group size or youth behavior whether to admit or to continue the membership of a youth member.” So while BSA maintains a non-discriminatory policy based on stated sexuality, Units don’t have that same obligation. (Of course that unit’s charter may be reviewed and denied, I suppose!)

  2. Michael Poretsky

    Can we all take a deep breath here?

    The only thing that has changed is that, should a gay youth be open about his orientation, we can’t refuse him membership or throw him out of the Unit.

    If he engages in sexual activity in the the course of the Unit program, he can be removed – just the way it was previously. We do not question youth about whether they are sexually active even though, based on many studies, older teens are, in fact, sexually active. Has anyone ever heard of a Scout being denied his Eagle rank because someone found out that he is heterosexually active?

    A good example of the hyperbolic and over-the-top thinking is the statement in the BSA release, “Any sexual conduct, whether homosexual or heterosexual, by youth of Scouting age is cotrary to the virtues of Scouting.” Will we be asking Scouts to sign affidavits that they are not now nor have they ever been sexually active? Will there be an mandatory question at Boards of Review covering this topic? What an individual may or may not do alone, in private, may also be defined as sexual activity. The BSA overly broad statement woudl seem to cover that as well.

    I keep hearing and readiing that discussions about sexual matters are off limits in Scouting. This entire discussion has focused us on sex and sexuality in a manner I consider very unheathly for our movement.

  3. Robin McAlister

    Could you please let me know where, in the 12th Edition Scout Handbook, you found the quote “Scouts should be clean in speech and actions and faithful in religious beliefs,” and a clean Scout as “someone who keeps his body and mind fit, chooses friends who also live by high standards, and helps keep his home and community clean.” I’ve read pages 118-120, the sectioned identified in the index under “Morally Straight”, and can’t seem to find the aforementioned quote. Is it perhaps from an early version of the Scout Handbook?

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