The historic vote by the Boy Scouts of America’s National Council Thursday to allow openly homosexual youth in the program but exclude homosexual adult leaders has left people on both sides of the issue unhappy.
California Democratic state Sen. Ricardo Lara says that despite the vote, he will continue to push a resolution that would revoke the BSA’s tax-exempt status “to ensure that discrimination in any form does not exist – not in our state, not on our dime.”
The homosexual-rights group GLAAD said it and other like-minded activist groups will now encourage “gay” youth to participate in the Boy Scouts. But spokesman Ross Murray said “the ban on gay adult leaders is still a major barrier for many families and organizations.”
He hopes, the Washington Post reported, that as homosexual youth “demonstrate their dedication to the program, hopefully it can change the culture of the organization from the inside.”
Meanwhile, a coalition of members of the BSA who actively opposed the policy change says it is considering forming an alternative scouting organization.
“Many Americans around the country will find it difficult to support the Boy Scouts of America after this decision,” said John Stemberger, founder of OnMyHonor.Net. “Despite this setback, we will look to the future.”
Stemberger said his group will meet with likeminded organizations, parents and BSA members next month in Louisville, Ky., to discuss the creation of a “new character development organization for boys.”
“We grieve today, not because we are faced with leaving Scouting, but because the Boy Scouts of America has left us,” Stemberger said.
“Its leadership has turned its back on 103 years of abiding by a mission to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices,” he said. “Instead, it is embarking on a pathway of social experimentation that we believe will place at risk the very youth the organization is entrusted to serve, while rendering as hollow the tenets of the Scout Oath.”
Stemberger said his group welcomes public comments as it develops its plans, via email at [email protected]
The Assemblies of God and the Southern Baptist Convention are among the church denominations that already have formed their own Scouts-like organizations.
The BSA said Thursday the resolution to change the membership policy was approved by 61 percent of the approximately 1,400 Boy Scout leaders from across the nation who voted at the organization’s annual conference in Grapevine, Texas.
In a statement issued after the vote, the BSA said the resolution “reinforces that Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting.”
The policy change is effective Jan. 1, 2014, “allowing the transition time needed to communicate and implement this policy to its approximately 116,000 Scouting units.”
Responding to the vote, the Family Research Council “expressed deep disappointment at the Boy Scouts of America.”
“Sadly, the Boy Scouts’ legacy of producing great leaders has become yet another casualty of moral compromise,” said FRC President Tony Perkins. “Unfortunately, Boy Scout delegates capitulated to strong-arm tactics and abandoned the timeless values that have served the organization well for more than 100 years.”
Perkins said the delegates “succumbed to a concerted and manipulative effort by the national BSA leadership despite the BSA’s own survey showing 61 percent of its members in opposition to changing the policy.”
The new policy, devised after an extensive survey of BSA members, is a revision of a proposal issued in January that would have allowed local troops to decide whether or not to accept openly homosexual members and leaders.
The Scouts count more than 2.7 million members and more than 1 million volunteers.
The BSA said it has “no plans for further review on this matter.”
“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.
The BSA said that while “people have different opinions about this policy, we can all agree that kids are better off when they are in Scouting.”
The BSA’s decision to propose a change in policy, as WND reported, coincided with a sudden drop in major corporate funding that began last summer after a “gay”-rights blogger for the Huffington Post published a collaborative report that named the donors and chastised them for violating their own policy of not discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.
Stemberger has contended that a change in the membership policy would “gut a major percentage of human capital in the BSA and utterly devastate the program financially, socially and legally.”
“Opening the Boy Scouts to boys who openly proclaim being sexually attracted to other boys and/or openly identify themselves as ‘gay’ will inevitably create an increase of boy-on-boy sexual contact,” said Stemberger in an open letter to the voting Scout leaders.
He says internal estimates by the BSA project an estimated $44 million of lost annual revenue if the policy is changed.
He points to BSA’s own “Voice of the Scout” surveys that indicate tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of parents, scoutmasters and scouts would leave the program if the proposal were adopted.
A member of the National Council previously told WND a decision to change the policy would prompt a mass exodus at all levels of the organization.
Last July, after a thorough two-year study, an 11-member committee of professional scout executives and adult volunteers unanimously concluded the policy of not allowing open homosexuals should be maintained.
In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the right of the Scout organization to exclude homosexuals, because the behavior violated the core values of the private organization.