Monday, April 15, 2013

Scout’s Honor: A Note of Caution

Over the next week, we here at man with black hat will be bringing you up to speed on an issue which has consumed our research efforts, at the cost of publishing the usual volume of work. It concerns efforts in the past year by the Boy Scouts of America to exclude what have been termed “avowed homosexuals” from its membership. This time last year, the National Council BSA announced the results of a two-year study, as a component of reaffirming their policy. In the space of less than a year, outside pressure and further withholding of corporate donations -- don't kid yourselves, fellas, it's always been about the money -- has caused them to reconsider. With the recent completion of a semi-annual “Voice of the Scout” survey which focused on issues related to the membership policy, a resolution is being formed by the BSA Executive Board for release later this month, and to be voted on by 1400 delegates from all parts of the nation at the annual BSA National Meeting in Texas. The vote will be completed on the 23rd of May.

Meanwhile, we have this statement from Family Watch International, reprinted here in its entirety without permission or shame.

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As many of you know, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is in the closing days of a massive outreach effort to gauge reactions to the proposed policy change to allow openly homosexual boys and men to participate in scouting. BSA leadership says they have sent out nearly 1.5 million questionnaires to volunteers and scout alumni posing some hypothetical questions about allowing openly homosexual individuals to participate in scouting.

We have seen reports indicating that in at least some areas of the country, the response rate has been relatively low.

We and others who have looked at the questionnaire believe it is not adequate to accurately gauge the concern that may be felt by members of the scouting community because it does not inform the respondent of all the implications of changing this policy. It focuses almost entirely on the religious or ethical concerns that have been expressed about the policy, and does not look at the serious implications it would have for the health and welfare of vulnerable scouts who may be questioning their own sexual orientation as part of the normal maturation process.

We have laid these concerns out in more detail with some documentation in the letter Family Watch sent to the national scouts back in February. I have attached that letter below.

In summary, the critical point is that no credible research exists to support the commonly held belief that homosexuals are “born that way.” Instead, there is overwhelming and growing evidence that same-sex attraction is caused largely by environmental factors and the experiences of boys who, for a variety of reasons, are particularly vulnerable to developing it. Clearly, the scouting program can be a particularly strong influence in a young man’s life because it is so effective at teaching not just values and morals, but correct principles and survival skills as well.

If the BSA organization allows openly homosexual men to be scout leaders, they would be setting them up as acceptable role models. This change in leadership could be a significant factor in whether some of these vulnerable young men develop same-sex attraction with all the documented mental and physical health consequences that result from acting out on that attraction. Allowing openly homosexual boys to be scouts can have a similar influence on some of their fellow scouts.

It is not clear whether BSA’s national leadership has considered the health and welfare implications this proposed policy change could have on vulnerable scouts. We have asked whether the leadership has considered it, but they refuse to answer. From their recent statements about the proposed policy change, and especially from conversations we have had with scouting volunteers and professionals, it appears to us that they have not fully assessed the impact of their proposed policy.

If you are involved in scouting and received a questionnaire from the national scout office, we urge you to answer it. If you have already returned your questionnaire, or you are a concerned parent, grandparent or just a friend of scouting, then we urge you to contact the national scout office before the listening period closes on Friday, April 5th and express your concern about the apparent lack of any health assessment the proposed policy would have on vulnerable scouts.

In brief, we suggest that you urge BSA not to adopt this proposed policy change without full, comprehensive and open consideration of the health and welfare implications of allowing openly homosexual men and boys to participate in scouting. You can send your comments to the scouts here. You may wish to include some or all of the additional specific concerns we have outlined in our letter to the scouts attached below.

This is an important issue -- one that has significant implications for the health and welfare of countless scouts. Because of the policy’s fundamental implications for the historic mission of scouting, it has serious implications for the future of scouting as well. There has never been a time when we have had a greater need for the kind of strong young men that scouting has proven so effective in developing.

It would be a major loss if scouting is severely damaged by this poorly researched proposed policy.


Sharon Slater

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Future reports in the next two weeks will concern critical issues related to the matter at hand, a survey of various organizations established to uphold the current policy, the disingenuous nature of various aspects of the conversation as adversely affected by the "culture wars," all with an analysis based upon, among other things, nearly twenty years as a youth and adult member of the BSA, including the distinctions of Eagle Scout, as well as the Order of the Arrow. Stay tuned ...

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