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Boy Scouts Delay Vote on Membership for Gay Youth

The organization's membership policies became a matter of controversy after a local scout troop denied a gay teen an Eagle Scout badge.

Rather than vote on lifting its ban on gay members, a conclave Boy Scout directors meeting in Texas Wednesday opted to put off making a decision on the controversial policy until May.

The Boy Scouts official exclusion of openly gay members was put into the spotlight last year after Ryan Andresen of Moraga publicized that the leadership of his scout troop denied him an Eagle Scout badge because he’s gay.

Here’s the announcement from the Boy Scouts:

“For 103 years, the Boy Scouts of America has been a part of the fabric of this nation, providing its youth program of character development and values-based leadership training. In the past two weeks, Scouting has received an outpouring of feedback from the American public. It reinforces how deeply people care about Scouting and how passionate they are about the organization.

After careful consideration and extensive dialogue within the Scouting family, along with comments from those outside the organization, the volunteer officers of the Boy Scouts of America’s National Executive Board concluded that due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a more deliberate review of its membership policy.

To that end, the National Executive Board directed its committees to further engage representatives of Scouting’s membership and listen to their perspectives and concerns. This will assist the officers’ work on a resolution on membership standards. The approximately 1,400 voting members of the National Council will take action on the resolution at the National Annual Meeting in May 2013.”  

Regular Guy February 06, 2013 at 10:22 PM
I don't have a dog in this fight, but I'd like to point out that allowing gay scouts is a very different question than allowing gay scout leaders. Parents should not regard a ban on gay scout leaders as fail-safe. There are stories every week about adults who abused minors under their supervision, in schools, churches, and everywhere else. Those sick adults find ways to get near the children they target. Children need to know how to speak up, because the slightest resistance early on causes a predator to move on to an easier target. Just as roads next to sheer cliffs can turn out to be safer than roads with solid guard rails, removing the ban on gay scout leaders could improve child safety. Or it could destroy the organization. It's hard to predict. If a gay scout can win the support of his fellow scouts and tolerate the inevitable verbal abuse from the immature, that's worth a merit badge of its own in my book.
Dive Turn Work February 06, 2013 at 11:27 PM
Yes, because delaying rather than taking a stand one way or the other is always a PR win. Who's advising these people Bozo the Clown? Pick a stance and live with the consequences. But, this hemming and hawing makes them look silly and indecisive. What a great leadership trait to teach kids. I guess a waffle ain't just something for breakfast.
Alex Gronke (Editor) February 06, 2013 at 11:37 PM
Maybe they'll start offering a badge in Task Force creation.
Just the facts February 07, 2013 at 01:33 AM
Please get your facts straight: Ryan Andresen was denied his Eagle because he declared he does not believe in God, a belief he has a righ to hold, to be sure. But a requirement for Eagle is a belief in a Supreme Being, a source of ethical and moral standards outside of oneself, a view the Scouts are entitled hold.
Clintonista80 February 07, 2013 at 02:23 AM
Why not just start a LGBT Scout Program, and run it any way you like?
Noelle Harrison February 07, 2013 at 03:49 AM
Ryan Anderson was not denied his Eagle because of his belief or lack thereof, in God. That assertion was raised after the fact by the Mt. Diablo council. He, his parents, and our local scout leaders have all stated this. Further, you can't just start a scout program and run it like you want. Scouting offers many benefits for youth and at one time was denied to every boy of color - EVERY boy, as well as Jews, and Catholics. Do you think they should have started their own scouting organizations?
Scott Bowhay February 07, 2013 at 06:26 AM
Hey, "Just Facts", you're so right! If Ryan had just declared his belief in a Supreme Being, none of that Gay stuff would have mattered, right? If only the BSA would be more proactive in determining the boys "Commitment to God" before they were, say, Webelos, it would save so much trouble. Of course, the whiners would call that "bullying", but we've got to protect the kids, right?
anon February 07, 2013 at 06:43 AM
I'm pretty sure he has stated that he believes in god. He was raised and brought up with strong christian morals and a boy scout. He couldn't have know he was going to be gay and coming out was a huge deal. But, God would know that he made Ryan the way he was and that a boy scout rule shouldn't keep him from what he worked for. The facts were that he was denied because he was gay even though his troop leader lead him on? You really can't say you know him from some facts online, he does have faith?
Ryan Andresen February 18, 2013 at 06:29 PM
I find it very offensive every time someone lies about my religious views. "Just the Facts", I don't know where you are getting your incorrect information, but to lie about me is so mean. I have believed in a God for my whole entire life and have never stopped. So who are you to tell me what my religious beliefs are? The BSA denied me solely because I am gay, and for anyone to say otherwise would not just be a lie, but is very harmful (Not that it should matter anyways if a boy believes in God to be in the BSA). I am so tired of all the lies about me. If you want to get away making up something about me, please make sure I at least don't have the right to comment. -Ryan Andresen
Ryan Andresen February 18, 2013 at 06:39 PM
No, because I have been "declaring" my belief since I was a young child... And anyways, it shouldn't matter. Discriminating against gays is just as wrong as discriminating against anyone lacking a religion. Instead of focusing your energy on bullying kids with a different lifestyle choice than you, why not try to answer the question, Where does this desire to call out and reject certain groups of society come from?
Chris Nicholson February 18, 2013 at 08:07 PM
Ryan: can you clear up the confusion about your faith? Did you ever write or say that you were an atheist or agnostic or otherwise did not agree with the faith-based requirements of scouting (obviously holding aside any arguments about some folk's gods not liking gays)? Personally, I think the scouts should be able to discriminate against you or me on whatever basis they choose, but it would be better if they were honest about whether you were excluded due to gayness or (alleged) godlessness.
Dive Turn Work February 18, 2013 at 10:04 PM
"...but it would be better if they were honest about whether you were excluded due to gayness or (alleged) godlessness." Why? Scouting rules don't allow for either. Frankly, the Scouts would have been smarter not to provide any explanation and simply say, "He didn't meet our membership requirements."
Scott Bowhay February 18, 2013 at 11:33 PM
Ryan, I was "tongue in cheek"...I don't think I have ever heard of a Boy Scout being ousted for lack of religious belief. The "atheism" claim was a red herring, and I was trying to call that out. I was attempting to use sarcasm to support you. Good luck!
John Heylin February 19, 2013 at 03:37 AM
Why hassle them to accept everyone? Same reason we hassled golf clubs to start allowing women and "coloreds" as members. We can't let bigotry exist and where it lurks we shine a light on it.
lovelafayette February 27, 2013 at 11:47 PM
Shame on our local BSA! So many of you parents patched about "change from within" but I cannot find a single local troop/den (whatever it is you call your groups) that shows the integrity of the Cub Scouts of Los Altos’ Pack 78. On their website is a message reading in part, “Pack 78 will continue our open policy to embrace all boys regardless of race, religion, skin color, national origin, disabilities or sexual orientation.” http://www.pack-78.com/Welcome FINALLY someone in government sees the light! California would strip the tax-exempt status from youth organizations like the Boy Scouts if they have policies that bar gay people from participating, under a bill introduced at the Capitol Tuesday. Support SB323, by Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens (Los Angeles County) Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Boy-Scouts-could-lose-tax-break-for-gay-ban-4292197.php#ixzz2M97YpMCH
Christina DaRodda February 28, 2013 at 03:56 PM
Check out Troop 234 website under policies November 8, 2012. They outlined and reconfirmed their policies regarding discrimination in a letter to the Mt Diablo Silverado Council. There are many troops and parents who continue to work from within to change these policies and because they are working from within outsiders may not be aware of the work that continues to happen.
lovelafayette March 12, 2013 at 10:27 PM
ATTENTION! BS families here is your chance to change from within. I find this survey creepy. It exposes that BSA lacks a heart and a soul...as well as a brain! http://m.dallasvoice.com/exclusive-boy-scouts-surveys-members-gay-ban-10141621.html?mobile-redirector-transfer=true
SR March 13, 2013 at 05:06 AM
@lovelafayette, "Finally someone in government sees the light". So the Boy Scouts are part of the government now?
lovelafayette March 13, 2013 at 03:03 PM
@SR. Reread the post please. Sen. Lara IS part of our government and seeks to strip tax exempt status from organizations like the BSA that ban gays. About time don't you think?
Chris Nicholson March 13, 2013 at 03:26 PM
You mean like churches? I would support that.
LamorindaMan March 13, 2013 at 03:54 PM
It's definitely time to stop tax breaks for churches. It's time those peeps paid up.
Clintonista80 March 13, 2013 at 06:32 PM
While we're at it, let's strip the tax-exempt status of the Human Rights Campaign, the ACLU, and Planned Parenthood. About time, wouldn't ya say?
LamorindaMan March 13, 2013 at 06:48 PM
Why do you support tax exempt status for anyone or any group? Everybody and every organization should pay their fair share or are you opposed to people and groups carrying their own weight?
c5 March 13, 2013 at 06:56 PM
...and this highlights the underlying problem. Our system grants tax exempt status on a wide variety of private organizations, and this status does not discriminate by 'flavor'. Just because some people would argue that a certain organization should lose status because of a certain set of membership standards they like, others would find different organizations with different criteria...etc, etc. Where would it stop? In my mind the tax exempt status criteria either has to be very broad as it is now (even if that means that some people detest what some of these organizations stand for), or elimnated completely (proabably more what ChrisN would like). Once we start picking winners and losers the entire thing breaks down.
LamorindaMan March 13, 2013 at 07:07 PM
c5 - It should be eliminated completely. Perhaps it would lower the burden placed on the rest of us who have to make up the revenue lost to the organizations free loading based on the tax exempt status.
Chris Nicholson March 13, 2013 at 07:09 PM
There is a lot of confusion about "tax exempt status." The main issue is not whether churches or he BSA pays tax on their income. The two most important issues are (i) transparency into financial activities (absent for churches, present for other non-profits) and (ii) tax deductibility of "donations." The reason why income tax doesn't matter much is that most organizations to make profit. If revenues=expenses, then incomes taxes = zero. A rational system would make all organizations fully taxable on income, deny tax deduction to individuals for fee-for-service transactions (write check; get sermon), but allow the deduction for gifts to fund other non-profit charitable activities disconnected from services enjoyed by donor (but if and only if the recipient org provides financial transparency). The same rules should apply to churches, BSA, Tea Party and ACTUP! I could be persuaded that we should get rid of the charitable deduction, but this would be pretty disruptive. I would only do it in connection with revenue-neutral comprehensive tax reform.
Napoleon Solo March 13, 2013 at 07:19 PM
I think tax exempt status should remain for religious organizations because of tradition and that separation of church and state thing in the Constitution. There should be only a few other exceptions. For example, I would grant one year temporary tax exempt status to any citizen that chases down an ACLU activist and kicks him in the shins. It would be renewable, of course.
LamorindaMan March 13, 2013 at 07:58 PM
Charitable contribution deduction should be eliminated as should all tax exemptions for all organizations. Organizations, like people, should pay their own way.
Chris Nicholson March 13, 2013 at 08:11 PM
LaMan: Americans give $300B/year. Even if they given the same in terms of pre-tax dollars, $300B is more like $200B or $150B, That is a big falloff. As I noted, if we did that, we would need to lower rates to make rev neutral-- and maybe a phase in.
LamorindaMan March 13, 2013 at 08:12 PM
It's nice and all if you want to donate $1,000 to your local church or the ACLU but why should you get a tax deduction for that and I don't get one simply because I opted to spend my $1,000 buying guns from Dick's Sporting Goods?

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