The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has rejected an application from a group of scout and church leaders to create a troop, sponsored by an LGBT organisation, to be inclusive of boys whose parents opposed the BSA because of its ongoing ban on gay members.
The group which had found sponsorship in the Utah Pride Center, had written in their application that they were all “open” and “avowed” straight people, but despite this, the BSA denied the application.
Despite this, and citing the sponsorship by the centre, the BSA denied the application in line with its policy which bans openly gay volunteers, members and staff.
“The BSA is engaged in an internal discussion about its membership standards policy and is working to stay focused on Scouting’s mission,” Deron Smith, public relations director for Boy Scouts, said in an email to The Salt Lake Tribune.
“Based on the mission of the [Utah Pride Center], we do not believe a chartered partner relationship is beneficial to Scouting,” he wrote.
Reports suggest that the BSA has been secretly convening a committee to look at whether to change or get rid of the ban.
A decision is expected after a vote in May, on whether to keep or change its ban on openly gay members, volunteers and staff.
A member of the Great Salk Lake Council, Nile Eatmon, who had agreed to lead the new troop said he was surprised at the rejection, and said he didn’t see a conflict with the policy since the leaders were all openly straight.
“I was surprised. I thought the Pride Center application complied with the Boy Scouts’ policies,” Eatmon said. “All the adult members and youth that were submitted with the application were straight.”
The Utah Pride Center is a nonprofit organisation based on Salt Lake City which serves Utah’s LGBT community.
The BSA charters local groups such as churches and clubs to carry out the scouting program within the communities. Each unit is run by the organisations, which are supported by councils made up of volunteers and paid employees.
The proposed group’s applicants were adamant that the application was not meant as a political statement, and it contained the names of ten middle-school aged children who would have joined.
The leader of an existing troop in Salt Lake City, Peter Brownstein, said the new troop would have been able to be inclusive of children whose parents would not allow them to join because of the ban.
“I sincerely believe that the current Scout policy is a barrier, and without it, more young men would otherwise be able to benefit from a great program,” he said, “and [I] look forward to the future when more young men will be able to benefit.”
The BSA’s policy regarding sexual orientation reads: “While the BSA does not proactively inquire about the 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.”