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POLL: Should the MN Boy Scouts Change Their Position on Including Gay Members?

Tuesday, the Boy Scouts of America announced that the organization would uphold its standing policy regarding homosexuality, which bars openly gay people from membership. Should Minnesota break away from the pack?

Tuesday, the Boy Scouts of America reignited the ongoing debate over gay rights.

According to a June 7 press release from the national organization, in April of this year a "single individual" submitted a resolution asking the Boy Scouts to reconsider its policy against granting membership to open or avowed homosexuals. Tuesday, an 11-member panel reaffirmed the national organization's committment to its existing policy.

The BSA's official policy is as follows: 

“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.

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.

The BSA is a voluntary, private organization that sets policies that are best for the organization. The BSA welcomes all who share its beliefs but does not criticize or condemn those who wish to follow a different path."

If approved, the resolution would have changed the policy to allow local units to determine their own standards. This is more or less the same approach used by the Twin Cities' regional chapter, the Northern Star Council. According to Marketing and Communications Director Kent York, the Northern Star Council has hewed to a hands-off method since 2000, when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a New Jersey Supreme Court ruling that found the dismissal of a gay Scout leader to be illegal under the state's anti-discrimination law.

Northern Star's policy leaves much up to interpretation.

"We don't make those choices. As an organization (the Northern Star Council) trusts the parents and chartering organizations to select the leadership. We don't ask (about sexual orientation) on your application," York explained. "We trust them to do that unless the leader's actions call their position into question."

Chartering organizations included in the council's constituency fall all over the spectrum, York said. Northern Star includes churches and service clubs that view homosexuality as a sin and others which strongly endorse gay rights. Thus, York said, the den in your neighborhood is likely to be consistent with your beliefs.

In other parts of the country, openly gay den leaders have been removed from their posts. York stressed that the Northern Star would take steps to remove a leader only if their conduct became questionable.

"The national statement doesn't affect us locally. Their are kids in our program who have two moms and two dads and we're not going to do anything that would exclude or ostracize them," York said. "National pronouncements make big headlines, but it's your service club or church that makes the decision." 

Daniel Stephens July 18, 2012 at 01:02 PM
While I am for rights of all individuals and couples, I also believe an organization has a right to choose who they include/exclude if they are not funded by public money. I wish their decision was different, but I also hope they lose a lot of donations/funding due to this socially backwards decision.
Nanette Ottoson July 18, 2012 at 01:40 PM
The only thing the loss of funding will accomplish is that a lot of youth who need this program won't be able to participate either. No organization whether public or private has the ability to meet the social agenda of everyone, regardless of what that agenda may be. I think the wrong thing to do is punish the kids who benefit from this program by restricting funding. For those who don't like this private organization, feel free to spend the same 100 years the BSA has developing their program in developing one of your own.
Tom Merdan July 18, 2012 at 06:29 PM
From a Boy Scout webpage: http://usscouts.org/advance/boyscout/bsoathlaw.asp As listed under "Duty to God and Country", it states [Your family and religious leaders teach you to know and serve God. By following these teachings, you do your duty to God.] There is oft heard that evangelicals want a Theocracy. Which is total bunk. It is the leftist liberals in this country that want to make laws about what we think; about what we believe. They have started by calling our beliefs hate speech. Specifically that speech is God's written word, THE BIBLE. And they want that speech outlawed Feel free to not join or support the Boy Scouts. I know that they believe in Freedom. Do you? IMO if we all could live by the Boy Scout Law, we would be doing just fine. Boy Scout Oath or Promise 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. Boy Scout Law A Scout is: •Trustworthy, •Loyal, •Helpful, •Friendly, •Courteous, •Kind, •Obedient, •Cheerful, •Thrifty, •Brave, •Clean, •and Reverent. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Caitlin Burgess July 18, 2012 at 06:39 PM
A reader wrote on the Richfield Patch Facebook page: "Thank God they're sticking to their guns."
Andrew July 19, 2012 at 07:14 PM
"Their are kids in our program who have two moms and two dads and we're not going to do anything that would exclude or ostracize them," Except, of course, we will not invite these parents be Scout volunteers. That would be a violation of national BSA policy.

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