Boy Scouts' Gay-Inclusive Policy Takes Effect With Little Fuss

The policy, adopted last May and effective New Year's Day, has resulted in little backlash from churches sponsoring scout troops.

BY Alex J Davidson and Trudy Ring

January 02 2014 3:47 PM ET

The Boy Scouts of America began allowing openly gay young people in the ranks as of yesterday, and so far there has been little blowback as a result of the new policy.

Although about 70 percent of scout troops are affiliated with churches, not all of them LGBT-friendly, very few churches have ended their sponsorship over the gay-inclusive stance, NBC News reports. BSA spokesman Deron Smith told NBC that fewer than 2 percent of the nation’s 116,000 scouting units were dropped by their sponsors between May 23, when the new policy was approved, and Wednesday, when it went into effect.

In an additional statement to The Advocate, he said BSA volunteers and staff were "prepared to implement the new policy with no major changes to the delivery of the scouting program."

One of the few instances of a sponsor dropping a scout troop came in Pomona, Calif., where the First Baptist Church ended its contract with Boy Scout Troop 101, one of the oldest scouting units in the West. But Troop 101 received an offer of sponsorship from another church and voted Sunday to accept it, scoutmaster James Meyette told NBC.

"We have somewhere where we're wanted," he said. "It is a relief knowing that the troop is not going to fade away."

On his approach to the new policy, Meyette said, "I had to ask myself a simple question: 'What would Jesus do?'" He came up with this answer: "We are all equal in God's eyes, and I'm going to try to hold that standard to myself."

Some opponents of the gay-inclusive policy have set up alternative scouting-style youth programs, but the "mass exodus" they predicted has not materialized. Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout, executive director of Scouts for Equality, and the son of a lesbian couple, told NBC, "The biggest result of this change is simply going to be people wondering what all the fuss is about."

In his statement to The Advocate, Smith added, "While people have different opinions about this policy, we can all agree that kids are better off when they are in scouting. We're pleased that the overwhelming majority of our members, families, and chartered organizations remain committed to the Boy Scouts of America. America's youth need scouting, and by focusing on the goals that unite us, we can continue to accomplish incredible things for young people and the communities we serve."

Some LGBT activists are now calling on the BSA to change its policy on openly gay adults, who continue to be barred from serving as scout leaders, troop members, or volunteers.
 

Tags: Zach Wahls, Youth

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