LOCAL OR NATIONAL CHANGES, OR NONE AT ALL?
by Sharon Rondeau
(Feb. 6, 2013) — Boy Scouts of America spokesman Deron Smith has issued a statement indicating that the organization will continue to study whether or not it should change its policy on admitting homosexuals as participants or troop leaders. A decision could be made at its national meeting in the spring.
Smith had communicated to The Post & Email on Tuesday that the matter was an internal one which the group wished to discuss privately at its meeting of the national board of directors in Irving, TX, which ran from Monday through Wednesday.
The Bangor Daily News has reported that 33 local Boy Scout councils requested more time to consider the matter.
Last week, The Post & Email was told that the challenge facing the Scouts at this time is local churches and sponsoring organizations which are applying pressure on the 103-year-old group to accept homosexuals because of their own beliefs and practices. Walter Francis Fitzpatrick, III stated that a scouting professional had informed him that local meeting places, such as American Legion buildings and churches, could be withdrawn from the Scouts because of its longstanding policy.
Following the Supreme Court decision in 2000, the Boy Scouts lost financial support from United Way, Levi Strauss, and other companies. The state of Connecticut stopped allowing its employees to donate to the Boy Scouts through payroll deductions.
The AP described the Scouts’ position as “divisive,” but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2000 that as a private organization, the Boy Scouts could choose to set its own policies. Two board members have pledged to attempt to change the policy on homosexuals “from within.”
The Boy Scouts of America has a structured Youth Protection program and carefully screens its troop leaders and other volunteers.
The Girl Scouts have reportedly demonstrated left-leaning propensities over the last several years. The MetLife Foundation recently awarded the Girl Scouts a $900,000 grant to produce materials in Spanish. Girl Scouts were founded in March 1912, two years after the Boy Scouts. February 8 is the official “Girl Scout Cookie Day.” Cookie sales are the Girl Scouts’ larges source of revenue.
Women congress members are designated as “Troop Capitol Hill” by the Girl Scouts, and a Girl Scouts Advocacy Network lobbies Congress “to support legislation that will directly impact girls and Girl Scouts.” Many women state legislators and first ladies are honorary members of the Girl Scouts.
The Girl Scouts’ mission is to “foster the development of leadership skills and self-esteem.”
Affiliates of the Girl Scouts are listed as “Girl Scouts Forever Green,” “Mocha Moms,” sponsored by Wells Fargo Bank, and the “National Urban League,” whose purpose is to “rally millions of Americans around education, employment, housing and healthcare.” The United Nations is also designated as an affiliate.
In 1907, a British man, Robert Baden-Powell, founded the first scouting organization for youths upon which the Boy Scouts based their first handbook. Baden-Powell believed that “Scouting is nothing less than applied Christianity.” In 1919, President Woodrow Wilson designated June 8-14 as “National Boy Scout Week.”
The Boy Scouts’ official statement on the issue of changing its policy reads as follows:
For 103 years, the Boy Scouts of America has been a part of the fabric of this nation, providing its youth program of character development and values-based leadership training. In the past two weeks, Scouting has received an outpouring of feedback from the American public. It reinforces how deeply people care about Scouting and how passionate they are about the organization.
After careful consideration and extensive dialogue within the Scouting family, along with comments from those outside the organization, the volunteer officers of the Boy Scouts of America’s National Executive Board concluded that due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a more deliberate review of its membership policy.
To that end, the National Executive Board directed its committees to further engage representatives of Scouting’s membership and listen to their perspectives and concerns. This will assist the officers’ work on a resolution on membership standards. The approximately 1,400 voting members of the National Council will take action on the resolution at the National Annual Meeting in May 2013.
Comments from members of the public can be accepted here.
Shortly after press time, the following statement was received from Michelle Tompkins, spokeswoman for the Girl Scouts of America:
Girl Scouts of the USA is a separate entity from other youth-serving organizations,
including the Boy Scouts of America.
Rationale: While some youth-serving groups may share programming activities with other
youth-serving organizations, GSUSA is independently chartered and governed and does not
comment on the policies, procedures, and actions of other organizations.
Girl Scouts of the USA and its local councils and troops value diversity and
inclusiveness and do not discriminate or recruit on the basis of race, religion, ethnicity, sexual
orientation, socioeconomic status, national origin, or physical or developmental disability.