Friday, May 24, 2013

Change in Membership Policy

As I'm sure everyone has heard by now, the BSA has voted to change its membership policy. For those interested in reading the official BSA statement, click here. Also useful is the BSA's "Points of Clarification" page regarding the membership resolution. Please note that this new policy goes into effect January 1, 2014.

For LDS scouters, and anyone else interested, please read the church's response, here.

I know this whole issue has disappointed a great many people. Some are disappointed that the change was made. (See this post as an example.)

I know of others who are disappointed that the LDS church will continue to sponsor Scouting. Some were hoping the church would drop the BSA. I know of at least one person who was hoping the BSA would change so that the church would drop Scouting. It doesn't look like that will happen.

Still others are disappointed that the policy change didn't go as far as they had hoped.

As for myself, I am okay with the decision. As stated in a previous post, I saw nothing in the resolution that contradicted church policy. In fact, it seemed to me that the resolution was similar in many respects to church policy.

The most important issue here (which is being ignored by almost everyone) is that of behavior. Attraction isn't the problem, behavior is. This concept is reaffirmed in the church's response to the vote. I am pleased that the BSA resolution identified this. All youth would be welcome despite their sexual orientation (i.e. attraction), but any kind of sexual activity (i.e. behavior) by youth of Scouting age is "contrary to the virtues" of Scouting (i.e. immoral). I see no problems with this.

For adults, the membership policy stays the same.
"The adult applicant must possess the moral, educational, and emotional qualities that the Boy Scouts of America deems necessary to afford positive leadership to youth. The applicant must also be the correct age, subscribe to the precepts of the Declaration of Religious Principle, and abide by the Scout Oath or Promise, and the Scout Law.
While the BSA does not proactively inquire about the sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or members, we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA"
When you combine the distinction between attraction and behavior in the new policy, the prohibition on any sexual behavior by youth, and the maintenance of the adult policy excluding open or avowed homosexuals, it seems clear to me that what the new policy does is specifically define homosexual behavior as immoral.

I know others will disagree. Some will say it was simply a compromise to try to appease both sides. Others will say it is "a step in the right direction" or the opposite view that "it is a foot in the door." In reality, how this is interpreted and applied will largely depend on the individual views of the chartered organizations.

The only thing I'm worried about is that not everyone sees this resolution the way I do. That means the next time it comes up it will be about adults, which will translate into accepting the behavior. The debate is far from over.

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