Debate is taking place over the position major faiths will decide ahead of the Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) vote on whether or not to drop their policy on banning gay scouts. The BSA National Council will converge in Dallas next week, with a decision on LGBT inclusion expected on May 23.
The proposal, which would allow gay Scouts but continue to exclude gay adults as leaders, has the unanimous support of the Boy Scouts’ top officials. In advance of the conference, GLAAD has asked those attending worship this weekend to have conversations with at least five people about why eradicating the ban for both scouts and leaders is so important.
“70% of Scouting troops are sponsored by churches, synagogues, and other faith-based organizations. More and more of these faith communities support inclusion for LGBT people. It makes sense that the place to enact change is at these places of worship,” reads a GLAAD press release.
The 1400 members of the BSA National Council will ultimately decide upon the organization’s approach whether or not to end the Scouts’ ban on gay youth. However, GLAAD’s initiative underlines the power of people in general to mobilize opinion.
“Many places of worship have a coffee hour, or fellowship, or just people hanging out after the services to chat with one another. Chatting and conversation is a natural part of any faith community, no matter what it looks like. This is your time to share your belief that the Scouts should be open to all.”
The campaign asks people of faith to listen, share personal stories about being an LGBT ally, tell experience of scouting and explain why lifting the ban is important.
Already, Catholic Boy Scout leaders have written contingent letters of resignation, signaling a divide between top officials and lower rank scouts.
“Under the proposed policy change, one cannot remain a faithful Catholic and serve as a Catholic BSA leader. The proposed change will only lead to confusing boys as to who they really are,” long-serving BSA volunteer Paul Sefranek told USA Today.
Having suffered a long-term membership decline, the Scouts’ planned change of policy is seen as an effort to appeal to younger parents who increasingly support LGBT rights. Though many faith-based groups advocate allowing gay members, the current two-pronged ban is strongly endorsed by existing members and volunteers who believe any change will clash with their religious convictions.