Friday, June 15, 2012
Irving-based Boy Scouts of America says “no” to gays
The group says it's a voluntary, private organization that sets policies that are best for the organization.
Flickr user stevendepolo
IRVING Last month, the Boy Scouts of America made headlines for a policy adopted more than 100 years ago that bans homosexuals and atheists from the organization.
A single resolution was submitted to the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) in April asking the organization to reconsider its policy on denying membership to open or avowed homosexuals. It also requested the policy be amended allowing local units to determine their own standards. The BSA gave the resolution to a committee to consider and present a report to the National Executive Board.
Then in May, on the heels of the resolution, an online petition was submitted. The BSA stated the petition was "completely unrelated to the introduction of the resolution." The petition asked the BSA to meet with a spokesperson from the group that submitted the petition. The BSA accepted it during a private meeting, "out of courtesy and respect for differing viewpoints," according to the organization's website.
The Boy Scouts of America have posted the following statement in response to these requests: "Contrary to media reports, the Boy Scouts of America has no plans to change its membership policy. The introduction of a resolution does not indicate the organization is reviewing a policy, or signal a change in direction."
According to its website, "scouting believes same-sex attraction should be introduced and discussed outside of its program with parents, caregivers, or spiritual advisers, at the appropriate time and in the right setting. The vast majority of parents we serve value this right and do not sign their children up for Scouting for it to introduce or discuss, in any way, these topics."
"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," the website stated.
Pat Currie is the scout executive at the Circle 10 Council, which serves 12 counties including Grayson, Collin, Hunt, Dallas, Rockwall, Rains, Kaufman, Van Zandt, Ellis, Henderson, and Navarro in North Texas and Bryan County in Oklahoma.
"This is not a new issue -- it is not a new policy," Currie said. "It is an issue that was ajudicated in court 12 years ago."
Resolutions and petitions on the anti-homosexual, anti-atheist stance are not new to the BSA and in 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court reviewed its policy. It has been a hot topic for the BSA since. According to its website, the organization has also received resolutions asking the BSA to reaffirm its current policy. Those resolutions were handled in the same manner.
"As a private membership organization, we have a right to set these policies," Currie said. "I am quite confident that there are people in our organization that may not agree 100 percent with all of our policies, but they understand that we have a right to have those policies in position if they want to be associated with scouting."
Boy Scouts of America echo Currie's stance on its website, stating that the BSA is a voluntary, private organization that sets policies that are best for the organization. "The BSA welcomes all who share its beliefs," according to its website, "but does not criticize or condemn those who wish to follow a different path."
Currie said scouting has nothing to do with sexuality issues.
"Sexuality at any level has no place in scouting," he said. "It's distracting from what our mission is all about and is a topic that is better handled by religious advisors, family members and [persons] of that nature."
As a Boy Scout council, Circle 10 intends to follow and honor all policies of the Boy Scouts of America, Currie said.
"It is our intention to do that," he said. "We understand that there are people who may not agree with all of our policies just like we don't agree with all the policies and procedures of lots of other organizations. The idea is that we would ask for the same sort of respect to our policies as we respect others who do not agree with our position."
Currie said he is unaware of any openly gay individuals trying to join in the area, though has had a member profess their homosexuality.
"I have been made aware of and have been involved with both atheist and gay members who acknowledged and openly professed their atheism or homosexuality and had to deal with that," he said. "The most recent here was about a year and a half ago in Highland Park."
Currie said Circle 10 has a policy in place for addressing such situations.
"Basically, if it is reported to us, then we deal with it as the individual leaders are not asked to deal with that on an ongoing basis," he said. "Quite frankly, when people join, they fill out an application, they know what our policies are, and if they join knowing that they are in violation of the policy then you have to ask them why they would want to join."
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