Today, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) vote on an amended policy for member participation. After reading their proposed resolution, I am surprised to find myself whole-heartedly supporting their position. The current policy for members does not allow youth who vocalize their same-sex attraction to participate in scouting. This is how things would change:
No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.
Given that I think that it’s a very real possibility that social factors, such as rejection and alienation by one’s same-sex peers, parents, and leaders, can contribute to a homosexual orientation, I love this amendment. (See “Aren’t People Born Gay?”) What boys who are struggling with same-sex attraction need most is strong non-sexual relationships with other boys and men, and the implicit affirmation of their gender through that camaraderie.
Here’s the another piece of their policy to be reinforced:
Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether homosexual or heterosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting.
What that means is that the BSA will promote sexual restraint for all its members. As far as I know it will be the only non-religious organization that encourages “gay” (and straight!) youth to embrace sexual abstinence as a virtue.
They have wisely decided not to propose a change to their policy on adult leaders:
…the Boy Scouts of America will maintain the current membership policy for all adult leaders of the Boy Scouts of America… 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.
I have written about my opinions on the BSA’s policy toward openly gay leaders here.
I don’t know any credible biblical churches who would exclude youth, or adults for that matter, based on an attraction. The BSA is following that scriptural pattern- allowing youth to be honest about how they are feeling but upholding a firm boundary on conduct.
The Scouts have landed in not only a reasonable but beneficial position on the issue of homosexuality for its members and leaders. I will cheer if they pass this resolution and will be more likely to encourage my boys to participate in scouting because of it.