Local scout leaders will seek to lift ban on gays

Local scout leaders will seek to lift ban on gays

Michele Ellson

Representatives of Alameda’s local Boy Scout council will be voting in favor of a proposal to lift their national organization’s ban on gay youths – and will recommend the Boy Scouts of America extend that change to adults.

The leaders of the Alameda Council voted unanimously on Thursday to support a proposal to be voted on May 23 that would lift the national organization’s ban on gay youth. The vote followed a survey that showed an overwhelming percentage of Alameda’s Scouting community opposes the ban, a view that was reiterated by members in letters and at a meeting held Wednesday.

“While many feel that the proposed change does not go far enough, we believe that this an important first step in a very positive direction for the Boy Scouts of America,” the Alameda Council’s leaders wrote in a press release issued Thursday night announcing the decision.

One local opponent of the ban reached Thursday night offered cautious optimism on the local council’s vote.

“I am encouraged to hear that the Alameda Council has decided to vote in favor of removing the ban for gay Scouts and to advocate that the ban on gay leaders be changed at the national level. Now we must wait to see how the national (organization) will vote on the issue,” said the Rev. Laura Rose, pastor of the First Congregational Church of Alameda.

In their release, Scout leaders said that while members of the local Scouting community have different viewpoints on the subject, they will continue their “long-standing practice of treating youth and adult members as individuals, without regard to labels or stereotypes.”

“The Alameda Council continues to extend membership to all youth and adults willing to follow the ideals of the Scout Oath and Law. Sexuality is not a topic for the Scouting program, and the Council does not favor any particular religious perspective for or against moral judgments regarding it,” the release said.

Proponents of a change in the Boy Scouts’ policies to allow gays have accused the local council of perpetuating a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that forces gay youths and adults to hide their sexuality in order to participate, and the policy has cost the Scouts at least one major sponsor here and prompted a local group to demand a community meeting.

"I think the Alameda Council needs to realize that just saying everyone is welcome is simply not enough," the Rev. Rose said Thursday. "Coming out as a gay person has very little to do with the topic of sex and everything to do with the topics of self-affirmation, self-esteem and equality as a human being."

While local survey results showed that the Scouts’ ban on gays is opposed by more than three-quarters of Alameda’s Scouting community, more than 60 percent of those surveyed nationally support the ban. But the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which sponsors more Boy Scouts than any other organization, has said it would support lifting the ban for gay youths.

The proposal is available on the Boy Scouts of America’s website, here, and people can offer their comments on the national policy here.

Scout leaders said it’ll be business as usual regardless of the results of the May 23 vote.

“Alameda Council and its 300+ adult volunteers will be here on May 24, ready to continue to serve the largest youth-serving organization in Alameda,” the scout leaders wrote. “Just as we have been for the last 97 years, we will be here for the kids.”

Comments

Submitted by Karry Kelley on Sun, May 19, 2013

Allowing gay minors into the Scouts but not gay adults makes no sense. Only two kick that child out when he turns 18. Where is the honor in that?

The Mormon church is not supporting this change because they have suddenly been enlightened. They are supporting it for purely economic reasons. The Boy Scouts membership is in decline and they need a way to keep revenues up. It is clear the the Alameda Council is in lock step with the national organization.

The US Supreme Court has already decided this issue. The scouts are a private club and entitled to discriminate. What they shouldn't be entitled to though is special tax exempt status. Organizations that do not comply with California's non-discrimination laws must not be provided this status. California Senate bill SB 323 now working its way through the State Legislature ensures that discriminatory organizations such as the Boy Scouts do not receive special tax status.

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