On May 23, 2013, the 1,400-member National Council of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) voted in favor of a resolution to add the following language to the requirements for being a Boy Scout: “No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.” The resolution passed by a wide margin, with 61.5 percent voting in favor of the change and 38.5 percent voting in opposition. The new requirement will be binding on all councils and units when it goes into effect January 1, 2014.
In an op-ed that was written by BSA’s president, Wayne Perry, and published in USA Today the day before the vote, Perry stated that the “proposed resolution reaffirms our core belief in doing one’s ‘duty to God.’ It would remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone and would maintain the current membership policy for all adult leaders.” Prior to the vote on the resolution, Perry lobbied the members of the National Council to vote in favor of the resolution.
The distinction between “youth” and “adult” has already started to cause problems for the BSA. Various LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) groups have expressed outrage that a 17-year-old Scout who is homosexual can assist in leading children who are as young as 10 1/2 years old, but that same Scout is forbidden from performing his duties after he reaches the age of 18. The LGBT groups have a valid point. How much more influence does an 18-year-old have over a young boy than he had when he was 17 years old?
Prior to the decision of the National Council, the BSA did not actively seek to identify the sexual preferences of Scouts; however, if a Scout publicly identified himself as a homosexual, he was barred from participating in the organization. What happened that convinced the BSA to abandon its policy of denying membership to Scouts who are open or avowed homosexuals?
Some claim that it was concern over money. Apparently, a few large corporations, including UPS, Intel, and AT&T, threatened to stop the flow of grant money to the BSA. Although money may have played a role in the decision, I don’t think it was the primary reason that the majority of council members voted in favor of the change in policy.
Most of the members who voted in favor of the change were at one time either Scouts themselves or had children who were Scouts. They presumably know that the behavior they sanctioned by their vote leads to disease and death. They could have easily discovered the alarming statistics on male homosexuality and HIV that were reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in December 2012:
CDC estimates that MSM [men who have sex with men] represent approximately 4 percent of the male population in the United States but male-to-male sex accounted for more than three-fourths (78 percent) of new HIV infections among men and nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of all new infections in 2010 (29,800).
The council members also knew or should have known that in 1998, when Canada’s equivalent of the Boy Scouts voted to allow open homosexuality, its membership plummeted by over 50 percent in just five years, forcing budget cuts, staff layoffs, and camp closures. The current membership of the Boy Scouts of America is approximately 2.6 million. What’s going to happen when 1.3 million Scouts and scoutmasters walk away from the organization over the next five years?
So here’s my question again: What were the members of the BSA National Council thinking when they voted to abandon the long-standing policy of denying membership to Scouts who are open or avowed homosexuals?
Last semester, my daughter Christine told me about how one of her college teachers refused to allow one of her classmates to take a quiz. At the beginning of the semester, the teacher had laid down the law concerning tardiness and cell phone use. Anyone who was late or was caught texting during class would not be allowed to take the next quiz or test.
The day Christine told me about the incident, one of the male students in her class had arrived about a minute after class started. When he walked in, the teacher was in the process of handing out a quiz to the students and refused to give one to the tardy student. Consequently, the student received a zero on the quiz.
I was surprised when Christine told me that she thought the teacher should have allowed the student to take the test “because he’s a nice guy and he was only a little bit late. He walked in when she was still handing out the quizzes.” The reason I was surprised was that Christine consistently shows up early for her classes and commitments. She gets irritated and pushy even when one of her sisters is running late.
At the beginning of May, while I was at a high school graduation party, I asked two men (I’ll call them Jim and Tom), both of whom have been scoutmasters for years, how they thought the BSA National Council was going to vote at its upcoming meeting. Jim said that he had read a lot about the issue and couldn’t predict what they were going to do. Tom then looked at Jim and said, “Did you know that Frank Smith (not his real name) came out last week and announced he was gay?”
With a look of disbelief, Jim said, “Who?” When Tom repeated the name, Jim replied, “He did?” They then spent the next five minutes talking about the Boy Scouts they had led over the years who had later announced that they were gay.
My friends at the graduation party would have found it difficult to tell the boys they worked closely with and liked that they could no longer be Boy Scouts. My daughter Christine argued that her teacher should have changed the rules because the person who was penalized was a “nice guy” and was only “a little bit late.” I would expect that every one of the members on the National Council who voted for the rule change has a family member, relative, or friend whom they would have trouble kicking out of the BSA “just because they are gay.”
We humans are imperfect creatures. We do not always know what’s best for ourselves or our society. We allow our emotions to get in the way of what’s truly right and wrong. We were created by God to know, love, and serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him in heaven for all eternity. Over time, He has revealed to us what is good and what is evil and has given us rules to live by. He long ago condemned homosexual behavior as a grave sin. The Scouts who have always taken an oath to “do my duty to God and my country” are now being told that certain behavior that is contrary to the law of God must now be accepted.
Unfortunately, this is only the beginning of the moral decay of the BSA. How can a boy be expected to adhere to his Christian beliefs if he is being told by boys and men that he looks up to and respects that homosexuality is acceptable behavior? The meaning and purpose of marriage will surely come up in their discussions, at which time he’ll be told that he needs to abandon his “hateful” beliefs and accept the fact that two men who are in love with each other should be allowed to marry. He will then be tempted to question and doubt other important aspects of his faith.
The once honorable organization — the Boy Scouts of America — which was born on February 8, 1910, had a knife plunged into its youthful heart on May 23, 2013. It will now, unfortunately, slowly bleed to death.