The Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) long-standing prohibition on openly homosexual Scout leaders could soon be history. On July 10, the BSA’s executive committee voted unanimously in favor of a resolution to amend the BSA’s adult leadership standards to “allow chartered organizations to select adult leaders without regard to sexual orientation…” The resolution must receive final ratification from the BSA’s National Executive Board at its next meeting on July 27.
According to a statement released Monday by the BSA, the amended policy will “respect the right of religious chartered organizations to continue to choose adult leaders whose beliefs are consistent with their own.” The statement also emphasizes that the youth membership policy, which was amended by the BSA in 2013 to allow openly homosexual youth, “remains unchanged.”
BSA President Robert Gates pushed for the change to the BSA’s adult leadership standards in May at the 2015 National Annual Meeting. At the time, Dr. Gates admitted that the BSA is facing a number of unexpected challenges to the leadership policy, including “growing internal challenges to our current membership policy from some councils … in defiance of the policy,” and “the social, political, and judicial changes taking place in our country. ” He emphasized that, “the status quo in our movement’s membership standards cannot be sustained.”
The BSA has faced declining membership in recent years, reporting a six percent decline between 2013 and 2014 alone, following its controversial youth membership policy change. That policy change prompted several religious groups, including the Southern Baptist Convention, to consider severing ties with the BSA, and a number of individual churches have ended their chartering relationship with the Scouts. It also led the American Heritage Girls (AHG), a Christian youth organization for girls, to end its relationship with the BSA. In June 2015, the AHG entered into a formal relationship with Trail Life USA, a Christian scouting program for boys that was founded in 2013 to provide families with an alternative to the BSA.
John Stemberger, president of the Florida Family Policy Council and founder of Trail Life USA, predicted in 2013 that the BSA would eventually be forced to change its adult leadership standards due to pressure from homosexual activists. On a recent edition of “Family Policy Matters,” he told NC Family President John Rustin that ending its national policy that had prohibited homosexual leaders would “emasculate and destroy the Boy Scouts of America as we know it.” According to Stemberger, Trail Life currently has 23,000 members and “over 550 troops in 48 states,” including North Carolina, which contains the organization’s “second most populated state of troops.” To learn more about Trail Life USA or find a troop in your area, visit www.TrailLifeUSA.com.