A Boy Scout marches with his troop during the Memorial Day parade in Smithtown, N.Y., May 27. RNS photo by Gregory A. Shemitz

Boy Scouts drop ban on adult gay leaders

(RNS) The Boy Scouts of America ended its national ban on openly gay adult leaders and employees on Monday (July 27) while allowing local religious units to continue to exclude gay adults.

Meeting by conference call, 79 percent of the BSA's national executive board members favored the resolution ratified earlier this month by its executive committee.

The policy change represents the end of a long and bitter struggle over whether to accept gay members that began more than two years ago when it allowed gay youths to participate, but not adults.

In May, BSA President Robert Gates declared the ban on adult gay leaders should be removed, saying the Scouts could not ignore “the social, political and judicial changes taking place in our country.”

“Chartered organizations will continue to select their adult leaders and religious chartered organizations may continue to use religious beliefs as criteria for selecting adult leaders, including matters of sexuality,” the BSA said in a statement.

“This change also respects the right of religious chartered organizations to choose adult volunteer leaders whose beliefs are consistent with their own.”

Religious groups make up some 70 percent of chartered organizations, and some are already reacting -- with opposing viewpoints -- to the vote. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, could depart, saying it is "deeply troubled" by the vote and will review the decision in the weeks ahead.

The Rev. Mike Schuenemeyer, a United Church of Christ executive, said, "(W)e look forward to encouraging inclusive scouting programs throughout the United Church of Christ."

Prior to the vote, BSA officials predicted it would be “unlikely” that troops based at churches would end up in court if they ban gay Scoutmasters.

“We live in a litigious society, and frivolous lawsuits are threatened and filed every day,” reads the 14-page memo from the Boys Scouts’ law firm, Hughes Hubbard & Reed. “However, any lawsuit challenging the religious requirements in a Scouting unit chartered by a religious organization would be unlikely to succeed or even make much progress.”

READ: Religious groups weigh support for Boy Scouts after vote to end ban on gay leaders

R. Chip Turner, national chairman of the BSA Religious Relationships Committee, said he hopes the memo will calm concerns that leaders of religious chartered Scout units may have.

“There’s always the fear of the unknown,” he said.

But opponents of a BSA policy change say church-based troops that reject gay adult leaders could face legal risks, especially after the recent Supreme Court ruling that same-sex marriage is legal nationwide.

“What they’re not taking into account is the new frontier that we’re on, where judges are being social change agents,” said John Stemberger, chairman of Trail Life USA, which bills itself as a Christian alternative to the Boy Scouts.

Trail Life issued its own eight-page legal memo, written by a former BSA lawyer who is now Trail Life’s general counsel.

“The church-chartered troop will likely be sued the moment it tries to revoke the membership of the homosexual member who wears his uniform to the Gay Pride Parade, revokes or denies membership to an adult who publicly gets married to someone of the same sex, or denies membership to the girl who believes she is actually a male,” the Trail Life memo reads.

Still, an Emory University legal expert thinks the BSA memo strikes the right legal balance.

“I think they’re taking good, bold steps for respecting the law of the land and the society that we live in while still retaining strong exemptions and accommodations for those who might feel differently for religious reasons,” said Mark Goldfeder, senior fellow at the Center for the Study of Law and Religion at Emory’s law school.

“I think this is a very decent balancing act and a kind of balancing act that can be a model going forward.”



  1. This is a non-issue. They have the whole “private club right to discriminate” thing protecting the church sponsored troops. Brown v. Board of Ed did not make it impermissible for segregated Boy Scout Troops. Racial discrimination in the organization did not come to an official end until 20 years later.

    In 1974, after 53 years of segregation, the Old Hickory Council (North Carolina) and BSA councils throughout the South, started to integrate troops. “

  2. Why the BSA has a major problem and are stuck between a tent and tent pole:


    “A jury in Oregon ordered the Boy Scouts of America to pay $18.5 million to a former Scout who suffered sexual abuse as a child at the hands of his troop leader — the largest such award levied against the organization, reports The Oregonian.

    Attorneys for 38-year-old Kerry Lewis said the verdict exposed the organization’s “dark history with pedophiles and its unwillingness to come to terms with the problem.” They waved “perversion files“ around the courtroom – secret files kept by the Scouts documenting claims of sexual abuse by troop leaders and volunteers over a 70 year-period.”

  3. But banning gay scouts and gay leaders was supposed to prevent sexual abuse!
    Oh right, that was all defamatory discriminatory bullcrap.

  4. Between a complex legal tent pole and a complex tent if something happens–http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/faculty_sites/rainbow/html/facts_molestation.html

    And then there is this:

    “The onset of pe-dophilia usually occurs during adolescence. Occasional pe-dophiles begin their activities during middle age but this late onset is uncommon. In the United States, about 50% of men arrested for pe-dophilia are married. ”

    Complex situation indeed. And the solution?

  5. “……. does that mean troops based at churches may end up in court if they ban gay Scoutmasters?…….”

    Troops that are based in episcopalian and other gay “churches” have long been recruiting boys and teenage males and encouraging them to experiment with gay sex (without the need for litigation). Parents who want their sons to be gay may voluntarily bring their children to Boy Scout meetings at fake “churches” which teach them how to embrace homosexuality.

    Real Christian Churches abandoned the Boy Scouts of America a long time ago and will likely avoid queer litigation altogether.

  6. I can’t imagine lawsuits being threatened against any church sanctioned BSA, as most churches will pull out once they okay homosexual leaders. That is the most simple business practice: when one doesn’t want their children exposed to scout leaders that are a threat to their children, then, see ya.

  7. You do realize, I hope, that angry homophobia, like yours, has been scientifically correlated with undisclosed homosexuality.

  8. I just love that staff members from The Onion are trolling the comment threads here. Those wily troublemakers.

  9. Its pretty much a given that bqrq is our resident closet case.

  10. “Boy” Scouts. How very interesting a label that is.

    This is a very bad development for parents that desire their children not to be hunted and targeted by adults for sexual pleasures.

    Hopefully the days of the Boy Scouts will come to a very quick end.

  11. Larry,

    When you look at the life of Harvey Milk, those that desire to have boy lovers get to be heroes. I’m sure the chicken hawks are looking forward to there being badge to earn for a proper circle jerk they can lead the boys into procuring. I’m sure guys like you are looking forward to your “leadership” positions.

  12. Larry,

    So you’d rather give them a license to molest instead of some restrictions to the process.

    I though so all along. Your support for their cause has to be a personal matter.

    Of course.

    You never fooled me.

  13. BB, the head in the sand policies of the Boy Scouts have been enabling
    child molesters to go about unabated for decades. Mostly due to giving churches far more say than necessary for a non-sectarian organization. Churches have a knack for enabling and covering up sexual abuse.

    The ban on gay scouts/leaders did nothing and was never causally related to the issue. The whole equating gays with child molesters was always nothing more than defamatory, bigoted bullcrap.

    Of course its personal. I am an Eagle Scout. The BSA was a major part of my childhood. My concern for the organization goes beyond personal and political stances. To have it besmirched by 2 decades of prejudice cheapens its meaning.

    ” I’m sure the chicken hawks are looking forward to there being badge to earn for a proper circle jerk they can lead the boys into procuring.”

    That is not a nice way to talk about priests, bishops and pastors. 🙂

  14. Funny. The people thought integrating the Boy Scouts would do the same thing. The more things change…

  15. How do you know what circle jerk and chicken hawk mean, Be Brave?

  16. Oh, who did’nt see this coming? Another institution afraid of saying no. Actually, the Scouts are an outdated and unpopular group compared to past years, so this is really a lame win for the gays.

  17. “BSA officials predicted it would be “unlikely” that troops based at churches would end up in court if they ban gay Scoutmasters.”

    Of course, the troops are on their own. The BSA national organization shamefully and cravenly covered its sorry butt and left the troops hanging out to dry. Meanwhile, they are feasting in the general’s tent far, far from any danger and are sending messages to.the.front with exhortations to be brave and sacrifice. These cowards will not lift a finger to help, but will tsk tsk over their arugula and sprouts.


  18. Homosexual [Pedophile] Teacher Group Targets Kindergartners

    Washington, DC — Hundreds of homosexual teachers and school officials gathered in Chicago not long ago to attend the annual Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) conference.

    The keynote speaker at this event was Robert Chase, head of the National Education Association, the nation’s most powerful teacher’s union. Chase told his audience that the NEA supports homosexual teachers. He observed, “I am here today precisely out of concern for the children our members teach. The NEA does not have what the right wing has branded a quote ‘radical pro-homosexual agenda.’ Rather, we have a radical civil rights agenda ? A pro-human agenda.”

    Chase is engaging in Orwellian Newspeak, designed to shield parents from the truth: The NEA has an aggressive pro-homosexual agenda and has promoted the normalization of homosexuality for years. http://tinyurl.com/nhu9wsm

  19. 33%% of homosexuals are predatory homosexual pedophiles.

    Childhood Sexual Abuse and Male Homosexuality

    For years, counselors, pastors and lay people who worked with men coming out of homosexuality noted that many of these men suffered from disproportionate rates of sexual abuse.

    Rev. Perdue, for example, has worked in Christian ministry for more than 25 years. He serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors for Regeneration, a ministry that helps men and women overcome sexual and relational brokenness – including sexual abuse, sexual addiction and homosexuality. He says:

    I have done a lot of counseling with men who struggle with same-sex attraction. Some have been in the lifestyle, others have battled with lust and pornography. I would estimate that in three-fourths of the cases, there was some sort of sexual abuse or misconduct that formed a powerful memory which contributed to the struggle.

  20. Churches, it’s time to leave the Boy Scouts of America. You already know that “local opt outs” cannot survive the latest Supreme Court gay marriage decision — the BSA leaders are simply running a delay game on you, and letting the gay activists and the judicial-activist courts force you into final surrender at their convenience.

    Churches, you already know that skin color is genetic and that “being gay” and other wrong sexual behaviors are NOT genetic. (Is adultery genetic? Nope.) So you must choose whether to be a Bible-believing Christian church, or else become some other “church” like the UCC where the Bible simply **doesn’t** matter.

    Fence-sitting time is rapidly running out. There ARE alternative Christian groups for boys and teens. Or maybe your church has the resources to do a similar group on your yourself. Just GET OUT of the New Gay BSA. Better — much better — done sooner than later !!

  21. It is kind of funny that the very people who had thrown grenades at the Catholic Church for being too loose regarding the gay/bisexual pedophile priest issue, are the very same people now cheering on the BS for opening up a new doorway for molestation. The thing is, people these days are not grounded in reality. It is all about embracing diametrically opposed positions, under the banner of a twisted philosophy known as Leftism. That is when you know the Devil is at work. He doesn’t want people to do anything rational, but rather that people only oppose one another, so that societal destruction takes place. I will say this much, if Mary is truly appearing in Mudjugorje, which I believe just might be true, then just around the corner will be a very eye opening series of events announced beforehand that will wake up this world to the reality of God Almighty: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Those will be some alarming times, but this world is in great need of it.

  22. You really do love those lies about gay men, don’t you? and your reverend perdue, working with a group of people who by their own definition have major problems, also loves those lies.

    And I suppose it is no coincidence whatsoever that Perdue means LOST?

    It’s funny that YOU know this, and “Rev.” LOST knows this, but virtually every psychological, medical, sociological, professional, and child welfare organization in the entire civilized world, anyone that has anything at all to do with the subject, knows completely the opposite.

    I have known literally hundreds, if not thousands of gay men in my life. Of all of these men, only TWO had every been subjected to childhood sexual abuse. TWO.

    and you know who molested them? Their thoroughly heterosexual fathers! One’s father raped him repeatedly as a boy and a young man to discourage his homosexuality. The other’s father molested him and two of his sisters.

    If you have indeed observed what you claimed…

  23. …it could be as simple as this.

    Gay kids are targeted by pedophiles as being different, vulnerable, and unlikely to tell something which might invite too many questions. Boys are targeted because that is whom pedophiles have more access to.

    people who define themselves as broken are probably far more likely to so define themselves simply because they have been abused.

  24. “The thing is, people these days are not grounded in reality.”

    And the man who keeps claiming that gay people are a threat to children says what?

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