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Sunday, June 2, 2013
I am a parent, former assistant scoutmaster, lawyer by profession and, as the president of the Blue Ridge Mountains Council of the Boy Scouts of America, I serve as the chairman of our council board. I was one of four volunteers from this area to attend the BSA’s National Council meeting in Texas last month.
Contrary to what has been reported by some, the discussion at the national council meeting was courteous and kind. All sides of the issue were allowed a forum in which to voice their concerns, and while the participants were fervent in their beliefs, the conversation was marked with respect for differing points of view bound by the common denominator of a genuine passion for providing youth with the necessary skills to make ethical and moral choices over the course of their lives.
The topic of sexual orientation has been a high-profile issue in our country over the past several decades, and the BSA has often been a focal point of this ongoing national discussion. The BSA does not have an agenda on the matter, and resolving this complex issue is not the role of the organization. Across the nation, Scouting represents more than 2.6 million youth and 1 million adult members, all with diverse beliefs, and no single national Scouting policy can accommodate everyone’s views or resolve this debate.
The recent review of the organization’s long-standing membership policy created an outpouring of feedback from the Scouting family and the American public. Leading up to the national meeting, the Blue Ridge Mountains Council had extensive communication with the leaders of the chartered organizations with which it partners, and leaders were afforded the opportunity to participate in discussions throughout the council about the issue.
On May 23, after the most comprehensive listening exercise in Scouting’s history, the approximately 1,400 voting members of the Boy Scouts of America’s National Council approved a resolution to remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone. The resolution also reinforces that Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting.
This policy change is effective Jan. 1, 2014, allowing the Boy Scouts of America the transition time needed to communicate and implement this policy to its approximately 116,000 Scouting units.
As a charter affiliate of the Boy Scouts of America, the Blue Ridge Mountains Council will fully comply with the resolution. This update to our policy will allow all youth who genuinely want to be a part of Scouting to experience this life-changing program and to remain true to the long-standing virtues of Scouting. While people may have different opinions about this policy, we can all agree that youth are better off when they are in Scouting.
We take great pride in creating an environment where people from all walks of life and different faith beliefs who may disagree on a variety of topics still work together to achieve life-changing benefits to youth through this program. Scouting will continue to focus on reaching and serving youth in order to help them grow into good, strong citizens. By focusing on the goals that unite us instead of issues that divide us, we are able to accomplish incredible things for young people in the communities we serve.
Weather JournalEnd of the blog as we know it?