By C.N. Staff Writer
“On my honor, I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”
This is the Boy Scout oath, an oath that every scout, no matter how old or young takes when they become a boy scout. Recently, members of the large civic organization have questioned the meaning of this oath. Their questioning swarms around the recent vote by BSA officials to allow youth-aged boys who identify as homosexual into the organization.
Some Scouts and families rejoiced over the BSA’s decision to partly end the membership guidelines that had drawn criticism from supporters of LGBT rights both inside and outside the organization, many others decried the move, with some BSA members making the tough choice to pull out of one of the nation’s most popular youth organizations.
A large majority of the BSA’s National Council approved a resolution that would allow openly gay boys to join the organization, but bars openly gay adults from serving as leaders or volunteers.
The vote was approved by 61 percent of the 1,232 National Council delegates who cast a ballot at the BSA’s annual meeting in May. “There were divisions about how to serve kids,” Tico Perez, the BSA national commissioner, said immediately after the vote. “If we have disagreement, if we have discomfort, we are going to talk through it. America needs Scouting.”
In a statement issued by the organization, they affirmed their stance: “The Boy Scouts of America will not sacrifice its mission, or the youth served by the movement, by allowing the organization to be consumed by a single, divisive, and unresolved societal issue,” the statement said. “While people have different opinions about this policy, we can all agree that kids are better off when they are in Scouting.” The new policy goes into effect Jan. 1.
BSA spokesman Deron Smith said the group couldn’t yet quantify the impact of the amended policy. Most organizations that charter Scouting units were continuing with the program, but some had decided not to renew – in which case BSA executives would work with troop leadership to identify a suitable partner and ensure a smooth transition, he said.
Some church and other organizations that have scout chapters remain supportive. Mormon officials on Thursday night said the church would stay involved with scouting “based on our mutual interest in helping boys and young men understand and live their duty to God and develop upright moral behavior.”
The vote symbolizes just how quickly many Americans’ views on homosexuality are changing. Just last summer the Scouts reaffirmed its desire to keep out openly gay boys and gay adult volunteers, a policy the Supreme Court upheld in 2000. However, mounting pressure from families and major donors in the past year forced the Scouts to take action.