Scouts-L Mail Archive for August of 1999: BSA POSSIBLE Commission on Diversity
BSA POSSIBLE Commission on Diversity
Settummanque, the blackeagle
Sat, 7 Aug 1999 22:55:23 CDT
With thanks to Jim Peterson, I've finally found the information I wanted to
pass along to everyone with regard to the recent New Jersey case.
BEFORE the case was decided upon and BEFORE the BSA National Meeting, I
hinted that there was some efforts being made to tighten our program
further....I didn't go into any detail because at that time, I didn't have
anything more than a couple of discussions with some national and
regional-level volunteers and one professional.
While I was down here in Honduras, the BSA held their National Meeting and
there has been some things sent to my home relating to that meeting. Some of
those things have made their way down here also. I didn't have a "paper
copy" of this until Jim Peterson found it and posted it over on
Please note that this is a PROPOSAL. Most proposals get worked and decided
upon, but like the earlier proposal to change some of the required merit
badges for Eagle that I posted last year or so, not EVERYTHING gets decided
upon nor in the manner that it has been "written up."
The Relationships Committee meets, according to the BSA's national calendar,
in the middle part of October.
(Thanks again, Jim, for sharing!)
>Subject: Re: BSA National Council meeting/Commission to study >diversity?
>From: "Jim Peterson" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
>This may be it:
>Resolved, that the executive board of the National Council Boy Scouts >of
America, establish a representative commission to examine the >relevance and
appropriateness of the present membership requirements >for traditional BSA
programs and report its findings to the executive >board in the year 2000.
>Since 1910 Scouting has served as a positive, unifying force, bringing
>together many faiths and viewpoints to fulfill a common mission:
>instilling the values of the Scout Oath and Law in young people.
>Present membership standards for "traditional" BSA programs deny
>membership to any youth or leader who identifies himself or herself as
>homosexual. While there is no expressed requirement that a prospective
>Scout or Scout leader identify himself or herself as heterosexual, the
>current practice is to deny membership to any youth or adult who >admits to
>National administrative policy of the Boy Scouts interprets the >provision
of the Scout Oath requiring a Scout to be "morally straight" as >being
antithetical to homosexual orientation. In other words, according >to
present interpretations, a homosexual person cannot be "morally >straight."
Many others in the Scouting movement have interpreted these >terms to refer
to proper behavior rather than a definition of a person's >sexual
orientation. This interpretation holds that it is a person's >behavior that
should be assessed in determining whether one is "morally >straight."
>Many other youth organizations and charitable service groups, as well >as
business and government, base their employment or membership >policies on
standards of sexual *behavior* rather than on sexual >*orientation*.
>The chartering organizations of traditional BSA programs are a broad >and
diverse group. Many are religious institutions that proscribe >homosexual
orientation as immoral. Others proscribe homosexual >conduct as immoral.
Still others accept homosexual orientation as an >existent condition within
the general population. Many traditional >chartered organizations,
religious and secular, advocate maintaining >existing membership
requirements, as do many parents of Scouting >youth.
>The present Boy Scout membership policy is the subject of litigation. >It
is being challenged by both private and public institutions that
>historically have supported the Boy Scout program. Businesses and
>foundations that have been sources of substantial financial support have
>questioned the continuation of such a policy, and the United Way in >some
communities has withdrawn financial support or threatened to >withdraw
>This challenged to traditional BSA membership standards must be >viewed in
the context of fundamental Scout principles that urge us to >value and
respect human diversity and to defend the rights of others to >practice
their own beliefs.
>Whether sexual orientation is an elective lifestyle or determined by
>genetic disposition (or both), is being debated in the medical and
>scientific professions and among religious leaders and sociologists.
>Information and knowledge on this issue is expanding rapidly. It is >being
examined at all levels of society--among private and public >institutions,
from business and industry to government and the military, >from churches
and synagogues to public schools and private colleges, >from golf clubs to
fraternal lodges and service clubs. In these >circumstances, the BSA cannot
avoid the challenge of such >introspection.
>It is the proponents' purpose in submitting this resolution to initiate a
>deliberative process whereby all traditional membership requirements >will
be examined, where positions will be studied and recommendations >made to
sustain a robust BSA program for future generations.
>It is the proponents' view that without such a deliberative process,
>membership standards may ultimately be dictated by the courts or by >the
most powerful or most vocal among BSA's constituencies. Further >delay in
addressing this issue may result in the diminution of Scouting's >leadership
as one of the nation's most effective character-building >programs for youth.
>Following are suggestions for the composition and operation of the
>commission. These suggestions should not be construed to in any way >limit
or restrict the National Council, BSA in establishing its own >criteria for
the commission or to in any way limit the commission from >establishing its
own procedural rules:
>1. The commission should consist of representatives from various BSA
>constituencies, particularly those which have had sustained involvement >in
the traditional program.
>2. Membership on the commission should consist of men and women in
>leadership positions in business, government, professions and such >other
persons the board deems appropriate.
>3. The commission should examine the consequences of maintaining >present
membership requirements upon chartered organizations, future >financial
support, public school cooperation, use of public facilities for >meetings
and camping, United Way support and such other issues the >commission may
>4. The commission should examine the scientific and medical basis for >the
determination of sexual orientation and the effect of homosexual
>orientation upon youth in dealing with their own sexuality. It should
>seek objective expert opinions and review available medical and >scientific
literature and current religious doctrine.
>5. The commission should examine the moral and religious basis for
>defining homosexuality as a moral issue and the effect upon BSA if
>homosexuals are admitted into membership.
>The commission should be staffed with personnel from the National >BSA
Office and an appropriate budget should be appropriated for >meeting and
travel expense and other expenses incidental to its work.
Additionally, today's _Dallas_Morning_News_ (one of several papers I get
electronic copies of in my "other life occupation") had a rather pointed
editorial encouraging the BSA to adopt some form of revision or tightning of
its membership standards. I won't post the editorial here, but I will post
the URL for those interested in following this issue:
Hope this additional information is a help to those following this issue.
(MAJ) Mike L. Walton (settummanque, the blackeagle)
Joint Information Bureau Deputy Director
US SOUTHCOM FCE (Enhanced New Horizons)
APO Miami, AA 34042 (Soto Cano AB, Honduras)
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