Mormon Church to accept gay Boy Scouts

he proposed policy by the Boy
Scouts, announced recently, is to
welcome youths into the
organization, regardless of sexual
orientation, but to maintain a ban
on gay adults serving in the
organization. The proposal must be
approved by the Scouts'National
Council at a meeting in Texas the
week of May 20.
It's an effort to quell rising
controversy, but it comes with its
own ability to stir passionate
arguments.
On the one hand, an important ally
of the Boy Scouts, the Mormon
church, has given an important
welcome to the move. Important
because of the reiligion's large
involvement in Scouts, along with
other churches.
On the other hand, many groups
and individual Americans are
voicing criticism of the Scouts'
proposal as not going far enough.
If a young man earns his way to be
an Eagle Scout, they ask, is it fair
to bar him from becoming a troop
leader later in life, based on sexual
orientation?
The Boy Scouts of America is
walking a line more difficult than
many a woodland ropes course:
Any position it takes will come in
for significant criticism.
Among Boy Scouts members in the
heavily Mormon Great Salt Lake
Council, some 4 in 5 Scout leaders
and parents said they're opposed to
lifting the ban on gays, the
Associated Press reported. Nearly
half of some 4,700 respondents to
the survey said they would quit
the Scouts if the ban on gays is
lifted.
But the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints said Thursday that
"while the Church has not launched
any campaign either to effect or
prevent a policy change, we have
followed the discussion and are
satisfied that BSA has made a
thoughtful, good-faith effort to
address issues that, as they have
said, remain 'among the most
complex and challenging issues
facing the BSA and society today.'
The statement is significant,
because of the strong role that
Mormon churches and families
nationwide play in sponsoring scout
groups. The church sponsors 25
percent of all local Cub Scout and
Boy Scout groups, and accounts for
15 percent of the Boys Scouts'
total membership of 2.7 million,
according to a Saturday news
report in the New York Times.
The Boy Scouts of America,
defending its proposed policy, said
in a recent statement that "while
perspectives and opinions vary
significantly, parents, adults in the
Scouting community, and teens
alike tend to agree that youth
should not be denied the benefits
of Scouting."
At the same time, many people
involved in scouting nationwide are
reluctant to change the current
policy on adults in the group. The
group's current policy is that
"While the BSA does not
proactively inquire about sexual
orientation of employees,
volunteers, or members, 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."
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