For 105 years, the Boy Scouts of America has played an important and significant role in shaping the lives of its youth members by instilling in them the values found in the Scout Oath and Law. For those readers who are unfamiliar with the Oath and Law, please read on:
Scout Oath: “On my Honor, I will do my best, to do my Duty, to God and my Country; To obey the Scout Law, to help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”
Scout Law: “A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent.”
These two beacons, which are recited before and after every Scout meeting, along with positive adult role models, have helped young boys become leaders; helped them understand the importance of giving back, paying it forward and helping “other people at all times.” Scouting provides avenues to get youth involved in community activities and events at an early age, often leading to these same Scouts becoming leaders in their communities as young adults. It is one of the most “pro-active” organizations designed to reach youth at an early age while increasing their chances of making good decisions later in life.
However, the perception of Scouting being a discriminatory organization has plagued the organization for almost 15 years. It divided its own membership across the country and impacted its ability to attract families, to raise much needed dollars, and created a series of lawsuits and bad feelings among many business and community leaders.
On July 27, 2015, this controversy was officially put to rest by the recent decision of the Boy Scouts of America national executive board, through a news release issued by the national BSA headquarters to all local Scouting organizations:
“Along with the rest of the Scouting family, we have been reflecting on the challenges facing the Boy Scouts of America and potential ways to address them—primarily regarding adult leadership standards. Our primary focus has always been on serving America’s youth and providing the best program possible to our members. Our mission has not changed.
“The BSA National Executive Board recently voted to ratify a resolution amending the adult leadership standards. Effective immediately, chartered organizations are able to select adult volunteer leaders without regard to sexual orientation, continuing Scouting’s longstanding policy of chartered organizations selecting their leaders. This change allows Scouting’s members and parents to select local units, chartered to organizations with similar beliefs, that best meet the needs of their families. This change also respects the right of religious chartered organizations to choose adult volunteer leaders whose beliefs are consistent with their own. It is important to note that the 2013 youth membership policy is not affected by this decision and remains unchanged.
“Moving forward, Scouting will continue to focus on reaching and serving youth, helping them grow into good, strong citizens. By focusing on the goals that unite us, we are able to accomplish incredible things for young people and the communities we serve.”
Ed McCollin is the Scout Executive/CEO of the Green Mountain Council for Boy Scouts of America, Waterbury, Vt.