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Where does BSA tell us homosexuals are not allowed?

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(I'm spinning this off from the lesbian-mother thread because I think it's going to get lost.)


Maybe I'm dense, or just haven't read through every single publication I've been given or purchased as a Scouting volunteer.


But in which handbook or manual does it state that only heterosexuals are allowed in the BSA? In which handbook or manual are we volunteers directed to tell people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender that they can't register as leaders? Where are we told to do this?


Please don't direct me to bsalegal.org. I'm talking about information that we as volunteers are given when we sign up to volunteer. When are we told this, and how are we told this?


I'm asking because I don't ever *recall* being told this. It's just "one of those things" that "everyone knows." But maybe I missed something.

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Page 2 of the adult application says:


Leadership Requirements


The applicant must possess the moral, educational, and emotional qualities that the Boy Scouts of America deems necessary to afford positive leadership to youth. The applicant must also be the correct age, subscribe to the precepts of the Declaration of Religious Principle, and abide by the Scout Oath or Promise, and the Scout Law.


OK, it has some holes. But, when it says "possess the moral, educational, and emotional qualities", one has to ask How is thid defined, well, not being Gay is one. How do I know this? Instinct? Being aware of the current feeling of the Organization I belong to I know what the statement means. When I joined the Knights of Columbus, I knew I would be with other Catholic Gentlemen and have not asked to let my wife join or my Babtist buddy

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Let me preface everything I say by letting you know that I am not taking sides, nor am I saying what is wright or wrong.


Shortridge; That is an awesome question, and I am willing to bet that nobody will be able to give you the answer to yout question.




"The applicant must possess the moral, educational, and emotional qualities that the Boy Scouts of America deems necessary to afford positive leadership to youth....."


Although technically correct, this still does not say anything about gays not being allowed. In fact, that statement actually encourages more problems and issues that BSA simply saying " Gays are not allowed."


Why? Because there is not a definant standard of moral, educational and emotional qualities that BSA is looking for.



I mean - suppose I decide right now that I make my entire life's calling that of following BSA's

moral, educational, and emotional qualities. What are they? Where are they listed and how do I know for sure that I am following them and not just implied morals of an individual professional scouter wether at Irving, my council or distric?


And whon is to say which set of undefined morals we follow if there are more than 1 set? What if Maccuzzas ( spelling?) are different from Tico's? WEhat if the National key 3 all have different ideas?


What then?


Still yet, even on the religious side, some churches and denominations are not only accepting gay members, but openly support gay leadership in the way of preachers, pastors, and bishops. Yeah, thye are splitting and dividing amongst themselves, but the point is...there isn't just one religious veiwpoint. And that's not even considering other countries and non western religion.


Again, I am not talking sides, just saying that BSA does nolt say what it specifically is that we are not supposed to agree to.


Tommorrow, an adult who is gay, who deeply believes in God and considers himself to be very religious may fill out an application and check that box. As long as he feels he is of good moral, educational and emotional character, then you know what...we can't say he's shystering BSA or lying to anybody.


All we can say is there is yet again, another point of veiw on the table.


BSA needs to flat out say: WE allow this:......" and we doi not allow this"......."


No wordplay, no beating around the bush, no word games.


So, while BSA definantly said we need to agree to their ideals...they also need to tell uis what those ideals are instead of lettying us assume we know what they mean. Because what you assume or

"How do I know this? Instinct?" might be different from my assuming or instincts.


Again, not taking sides with who "thinks" what, just sying so far, all we have is a bunch of thinks this and thinks that.


Another point: Look at all the threads on this site. People cannot agree what specific definitions and guidelines mean. People cannot agree on who is supposed to run what and who is in charge.


How we ever gonna have a unanimous agreement on what good morals are or education or emotions?


BSA needs to write it down and be specific.


But if they do...they might find themselves losing alot of people who thought they were on the same page but ended being in a different book entirely.


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Yeah Basement, I do believe you are absolutely correct. And the thing is...we might see one every week, every month, or every day and not even know it.


Maybe that's why BSA doesn't have a specific list of what they think are good education, emotional and moral qualities.


But I do think that while shortridges question is about a long hashed subject,,,his specific question and the resulting answer are something I have specifically not sen before.


I mean, he's not asking anybody to justify WHY they feel the way they do, or wether iot is moral or not.


He is just asking for a written statement or passage that specifically states what we "common knowledgely" know as a BSA rule.

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I don't agree with you in the use of the term - lifestyle choices. I didn't choose to be straight, that's just what I am.


I also don't think that 'morally straight' is specific. I know homosexuals who are more morally straight than many heterosexuals that I know.


Religious grounds is not clear enough for all cases; I know a church pastor of a large congregations who is one of the least moral people that I've ever met.

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Like it or not shortridge is correct, there is nowhere in any BSA pub or application that specifically states "homosexuals are not allowed in the BSA." Maybe the BSA is trying to avoid a massive class action lawsuit by being as unspecific as possible on this issue allowing the CO's to take the lead in this matter.

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I think it's a good question and I can't answer it. Sorry OGE, outside the context of a thread like this one, I don't think one in 100 people will read that statement on the application and think "no gays."


Mostly through the forums here, but also through reading BSALegal.com and even some of the legal briefs and court decisions I think I have pretty good understanding of BSA's position.


One of the things I understand to be true is that since winning the Dale case, BSA backed away from some of the hard language of the legal briefs and has taken a somewhat softer line with youth members. It has taken the position it will not ask a person's sexual orientation, but bans "avowed" homosexuals. I personally have come to interpret that to mean an otherwise qualified, divorced dad with a roommate would be acceptable, as long as specifics regarding the relationship with the roommate are kept private.


So where does that leave the unit Scouter collecting adult applications? Pretty much in the spot where the unit leader in Potomac Fall found himself. Nice mom wants to be an ASM, has served well as a den leader, seems to be a single mom with another lady living with her family. Now I may have my suspicions as to the living arrangements and the gossip meter may be on tilt, but without asking -- which I'm not supposed to do -- what basis do I have for declining her application? And then what do you do with another volunteer who outs them? Once the relationship is in the open, is it "avowed"? Now if the mom came to the troop and said "I'm a lesbian, is that a problem?" Well, yes, it is now.


I suppose it's like The Game. If you think about the game you lose the game. (Ah, dang it, lost again.)



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Scoutfish - Right. I'm not trying to rehash the debate. I'm just trying to figure out how we, as volunteers, *know* this "fact."


For example, in the recent thread where some adults quizzed a boy who said he was bisexual - on what do they base their actions? Is it just a feeling or a sense that BSA doesn't like gays? Or is there actually something written down and handed to us saying "Gays aren't allowed" that I've just missed?

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First, I want to say you have posed an excellent, thought provoking question.


Second, we are faced with quite a paradox, especially under the guise of "morally straight character", as in OGE's post. How many times in this forum has it been stated that we must follow the requirements "exactly as written, without addition or subtraction". Yet, we are expected to discriminate against people under the presumption of "following policy", which is not written. Makes you think, doesn't it?

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I don't think I've ever been told this in any publication for volunteers. This fact is commented upon in court cases by opponents of the policy - "The morality of homosexuality is not something discussed in the vast literature the Boy Scouts have published for use in Scouting"


Maybe the BSA is trying to avoid a massive class action lawsuit by being as unspecific as possible on this issue allowing the CO's to take the lead in this matter.


Nope, that's not it. The BSA is very specific on this topic in legal filings. They won a Supreme Court case, even.


I think that they just don't see any benefit in putting this in their publications.

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I joined this forum a while back in order to get pointers on the program and ideas for the unit. But I didn't really get involved until I became aware of this issue. While I agree that the OP has a good question, I suggest that the question has always been there and that an answer of sorts can be found in the behavior of BSA with respect to this issue.


BSA has not explicitly stated this policy. Instead, in a sort of passive aggressive way, they have reacted to specific situations, sometimes through legal venues. So in addition to the question in the OP, it might be illuminating to review the time series of the individual events regarding gay membership...and I'm not sure I can even remember all of them. But BSA established its legal status as a private religious organization as a result of one of those legal decisions. And there have been a sequence of consequences since that decision, including one that caught my attention early on - the decision that affected the boys who have earned the UUA religious award.


If we are searching for the written words on this issue, the place to find the originals is a position statement that was made during the BSA v Dale case. And YES, I understand that this is not advertised in either the recruiting literature or the program literature for us volunteers. That's the point.


BSA, through it's actions or lack thereof has sent a message of sorts to all of us. They have both confirmed their original position statement AND they have confirmed, apparently, Trevorum's observation a while back that "the times, they are a-changing". BSA said and is saying that BSA sets membership policy, period. Moreover, through their failure to articulate this policy clearly, they have sent a message that they can apply it any way they see fit. The inevitable situation which Basementdweller described (and evidently is weary of) is symptomatic of the reality that BSA is taking this on a case-by-case basis and if we are left with the impression that in some cases they might allow a CO to keep a gay member, or not, depending on the wishes of the CO, that impression may be getting close to the truth. It's still ultimately a BSA decision...if the CO wants to take it that far.


The claim by BSA that "it's not about the numbers" reminds me of the observation by Mencken that when a politician whose decisions under critical scrutiny claims that "it's not about the money", Mencken says, it IS about the money. Applied to BSA, when we think about the loss of revenue from what had been traditional sources, when we think about the loss of membership, when we think about the loss of public CO's, it's hard not to think that the up-front claim that "it's not about the numbers" is disingenuous. It's about the numbers.


When you think about this issue which has festered for decades now, combined with what some of us view as banal interests by professional scouters (cash flow, covering salaries, membership, donations), the flow of the history suggests that Trevorum is correct. The practical outcome of the original position is being felt enough that the unstated and capriciously-applied policy IS changing to something more along the lines of 'local option'.


But be careful what you wish for. If we, through our criticism of this history, demand a firm written policy that clearly articulates the ban on gay membership, we might get it. Would that really be an improvement? I'm not so sure.

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"The applicant must possess the moral, educational, and emotional qualities that the Boy Scouts of America deems necessary to afford positive leadership to youth."


While we're all concentrating on the "moral" qualities, what about the "educational" qualities? Is being a high school drop-out an example of the educational qualities we want in a leader? What about a leader that is illiterate? No GED's allowed?


What about "emotional" qualities? Where do we draw the line there? No leaders that have ever been seen and/or treated by a mental health professional? No leaders that cry? No leaders that don't laugh at stupid jokes?


The answer, Shortridge, is that there is not a single BSA publication readily available to volunteers that states that "homosexuals may not be volunteers. They leave that to "common knowledge".

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Since you haven't gotten a good answer yet, I'll give you one.


From Page 2 of the Adult Application

"The applicant must also be the correct age, subscribe to the precepts of the Declaration of Religious Principle, and abide by the Scout Oath or Promise, and the Scout Law."


When you couple that with the BSA position

"We believe that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the requirements in the Scout Oath that a Scout be morally straight and in the Scout Law that a Scout be clean in word and deed, and that homosexuals do not provide a desirable role model for Scouts."


But how are you supposed to know? It's just an assumed thing we're all supposed to know, so this is a great thread to bring around.


One of the units I commission had a question along these lines. A gal wanted to know if she could be a leader in the Pack, but the leaders knew there were rumors of her being a homosexual.


They asked me and I told them not to ask, as that's sexual harassment. They did not, but she asked first if it was ok that she was. They let her know she'd make a great ScoutParent instead of leader... she was actually very pleased with this compromise.


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