North Country Boy Scout officials favor the national organization’s plan to allow gay scouts, but say they wish the policy would be extended to gay adult scout leaders, too.
The resolution from the national Boy Scouts of America organization, which will be voted on by councils around the country in May, restates the youth organization’s membership requirements to include a sentence that reads, “No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.”
The Longhouse Council of Central and Northern New York, which includes St. Lawrence County’s Northern Lights District, said in a statement they favor the move.
But the council says the national organization continues to refuse Boy Scout adult leadership to openly gay men, and they think that’s a mistake.
The BSA’s National Executive Committee released its Membership Standards Study Initiative Executive Summary after a comprehensive national survey by electronic survey, website, social media, direct correspondence and local in-person town hall forums, and also released a proposed resolution that will be voted on at the national annual meeting in May.
The resolution continues to require adherence to Boy Scout principals including “duty to God,” “good conduct,” and respect for others.
The resolution reads:
“Youth membership in the Boy Scouts of America is open to all youth who meet the specific membership requirements to join the Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Varsity Scout, Sea Scout, and Venturing programs. Membership in any program of the Boy Scouts of America requires the youth member to (a) subscribe to and abide by the values expressed in the Scout Oath and Scout Law, (b) subscribe to and abide by the precepts of the Declaration of Religious Principle (duty to God), and (c) demonstrate behavior that exemplifies the highest level of good conduct and respect for others and is consistent at all times with the values expressed in the Scout Oath and Scout Law. No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.”
“The Longhouse Council views this change in policy as a significant step forward in securing the success of Scouting far into the future, nationally and throughout Central and Northern New York,” the North Country leaders said.
“The study and the resolution reflect the opinions of the majority in Scouting that sexual preference or orientation alone is not a basis for exclusion for a boy or young adult from the tremendous program that Scouting offers,” the Longhouse Council said.
But they believe the national organization did not go far enough because they did not revise their policy regarding gay scout leaders.
“The absence of language in the resolution addressing adult leader membership standards means that without a modification or proposal of an additional resolution the current national policy excluding openly gay or avowed homosexual adult leaders from registering as BSA leaders will remain,” the Longhouse Council’s statement said.
“We disagree with continuation of this policy. The Longhouse Council views this as an unfortunate shortcoming that runs contrary to our official recommendation that Scouting – youth and leadership – be open to all regardless of sexual orientation as has been BSA policy in the past. Council leadership will be encouraging the National Scout Council to adopt a membership policy that is consistent for both youth and adults,” the council wrote.
Nonetheless, “The Longhouse Council views this change in policy as a significant step forward in securing the success of Scouting far into the future, nationally and throughout Central and Northern New York.
The Longhouse Council includes Northern Lights District of St. Lawrence County, which at 2,880 square miles is the largest district in the council and possibly the largest in the state, according to the council.