The opinions contained herein are my own and are not necessarily shared by the Scouting organizations with which I am currently affiliated. That said…
April 2013 – BSA Votes in less than a month
The issue of inclusiveness in Scouting has been a concern of mine since my eldest son joined the Cub Scouts three years ago. But in the last 6 months, I’ve really leaned forward on the topic; writing letters, spreading the word amongst friends and family, discussing the issue amongst my son’s unit leadership, and donating funds towards Scouts for Equality lobbying efforts.
Now, in less than a month, the National Council of the BSA will vote on a resolution that will allow gay youths to participate in the program, but will continue to exclude gay adult leaders and volunteers. I personally feel that this resolution falls far short of equality. However it is my hope that the voting members of our local council vote in favor of the resolution in the absence of an alternative, more inclusive resolution. I do not think the current resolution should be considered a settlement, but rather a step in the right direction. I feel this way for two reasons:
- Above all other wants and desires, I want *any* youth, without regard to belief, preference, or resource, to have the opportunity to participate in Scouting. The benefits of the program outweigh the disadvantages by a ratio of (∞ + 1) : 1.
- Change is inevitable. This is just a first step in the right direction and I believe the dominoes will begin to fall more quickly as time marches onward.
When I first read the news release last week I felt disgusted. My initial reaction was: “The BSA just doesn’t get it!” Not only does the resolution not meet my hopes and expectations, but it appears that the BSA pulled a nasty little PR stunt by releasing the story amid the tragedy in Boston last week, so as to bury the story. However, further contemplation leads me to conclude that not only does the BSA get it, but they are very a savvy organization and they are working the long game. I believe that there is some serious diplomacy at play here that I can only begin to comprehend. My disgust has dissipated and my conviction renewed. My place remains at the bottom, here among the ground swell of concerned Scouts, parents, and leaders who are fueling the diplomatic long game.
Change on the BSA membership policy is long overdue. We may have to take some baby steps to get there. We may continue to stumble along the way. But I am confident that we are on our way towards progress and change.
Lastly, I came across this video from director Todd Bieber, that puts to words and pictures how I feel about the Boy Scouts of America and why I hope that all four of my son’s have the opportunity to participate in a Scouting program that is inclusive to everyone.
March 2013 – Local Policy/Principle Changes
Our local council, the Mt. Diablo Silverado Council of the Boy Scouts of America, put out a survey to its membership at the beginning of 2013 to get feedback on the BSA’s national membership policy. On Saturday, March 16, 2013, the findings and recommendations from that survey were formally adopted and made public. Within the recommendations are a series of principles that are based on the majority opinions of those who responded to the survey and have participated in the debates. In summary:
- Scouts and volunteers should be judged by their character and their actions, not by a stereotype or prejudice.
- The core values of Scouting are universal and should be available to all.
- Policies and discussions about sexual orientation are not a part of the Scouting movement’s core values. The Scouting movement should not be used as a platform for any topic that is not consistent with its core values.
- The MDSC believes that the current BSA Membership Policy is inconsistent with Scouting core values and should be changed so that it does not discriminate against any group, namely LGBT individuals.
- The BSA membership policy should be maintained at the national level. Membership policy changes should not be delegated to the local chartering organizations.
Voting members of our council will take these guiding principles with them to the National Conference in May, where the BSA’s membership policy is expected to be up for debate and potentially voted on for change. Based on these principles, our members will urge the National Council to adopt a non-discrimination policy that applies to all localities.
I wish to commend the members of our council who took the time to let their voice be heard. I would also like to thank the committee members who conducted the survey, who coalesced the results into a clear, concise set of recommendations, and who have bravely put their names to this report. You have all demonstrated the true spirit of Scouting. Among other things, you have clearly done you best!