Monday, February 4, 2013

Boy Scouts councils to national HQ: Don't make hasty decision on gays

By Miranda Leitsinger, Staff Writer, NBC News

A coalition of Boy Scouts councils representing some 540,000 youth asked the national organization on Monday to hold off on determining whether to end the controversial policy banning gay Scouts and leaders, saying it was concerned about the executives’ fast pace on a decision that can’t be “undone.”

The Boy Scouts of America's announcement last week that it may eliminate the exclusion of gays from membership at the national level, leaving the decision to its local units, has led to some soul-searching and a lot of questions among Scouting families and their chartering organizations. Some families have indicated they may leave if the ban is lifted, but many have welcomed a change they feel was long overdue.

The Scouts' began National Executive Board and Committee meetings on Monday, and a decision on the gay ban is expected Wednesday.

The coalition of 33 Boy Scouts councils representing some 540,000 youth, or 20 percent of the organization’s 2.6 million active Scouts, has “united to express our concern about the pace at which such actions are being taken,” according to a statement posted on the website of the Utah-based Great Salt Lake Council. “… we request that a final vote on this policy reversal be delayed to allow other stakeholder’s voices to be heard and a more thorough analysis of the impact on local councils.”

The decision comes just seven months after the organization said it was sticking with the policy following a confidential two-year review of the disputed membership guidelines. That review was announced months after Jennifer Tyrrell was dismissed from her post as leader of her son’s Tiger Cubs den because she is a lesbian, and a few months before California teen Ryan Andresen was denied his Eagle award because he is gay.

Both cases made national headlines for several weeks, roiling the private youth organization. Some critics pointed to declining membership numbers as a sign that families were being turned off over the issue.

The coalition, though, said: “While we understand the urge to support those councils who feel that the current policies negatively impact their ability to remain viable we also think that equal support and consideration should be given to those councils whose ability to remain viable will be impacted by adopting the new policy.”

It said the proposed policy “flies in direct contradiction” to the results of the two-year review and noted: “Time must be allowed for accurate polling data to be collected from stakeholders at all levels and all areas in an unbiased way. The voices of existing chartered partners and financial contributors must be heard alongside those of our volunteer leaders and the parents who entrust their children to us. This is a decision which cannot be ‘undone.’”

'Gravely distressed': Religion looms large over Boy Scouts decision on gays

Tom Pennington / Getty Images
Will Oliver, an Eagle Scout, Greg Bourke, a former Assistant Scoutmaster, Jennifer Tyrrell, a former Cub Scout den mother, and Eric Andresen, a former Scout leader, deliver boxes containing 1.4 million signatures urging the Boy Scouts of America to reverse the organization's ban on gay Scouts on February 4, 2013 in Irving, Texas.

The Great Salt Lake Council also said that it explicitly opposed any changes to the current membership policy without open discussion and deliberation with the various individuals who make up the organization.

When asked for comment about the positions of the coalition and the Great Salt Lake Council, BSA spokesman Deron Smith said in an email: “We recognize, deeply respect and appreciate the sincere beliefs about this issue.”

Advocates on both sides of the issue have stepped up their campaigns ahead of the BSA's final decision: They’ve encouraged their backers to make their voices heard through a phone-in and email deluge, a conservative group, the Family Research Council, said that it and 41 other groups ran a newspaper ad on Monday asking the BSA not to change the policy, and some conservative religious groups have urged their supporters to join in prayer to ask the board not to accept gays.

Tyrrell, of Bridgeport, Ohio, and Ryan Andresen’s father were among a group that delivered petitions to the Boy Scouts' headquarters in Texas on Monday bearing more than one million signatures calling for an end to the policy.

“It’s crucial because they are in the middle of making this potentially historical decision,” Tyrrell, 33, a mother of four children, told NBC News after delivering four boxes filled with the petitions and additional comments to a Boy Scouts' representative. The group had heard the organization has been receiving “a lot of negative feedback” from religious groups and wanted to provide the petitions so the BSA could see that “there are many people that support this and want this.”

“There are 1.4 million Americans that have signed petitions supporting the change in BSA policy,” said Andresen, 52, of Moraga, Calif. “That’s quite a statement. … that’s a lot of people supporting change.”

Tyrrell and other advocates have previously delivered some of the petitions, which Smith said the BSA had accepted, too. “The BSA has received a great deal of feedback from a variety of viewpoints and we appreciate everyone sharing their perspective on this issue,” he wrote.

After years of heartache, gay Scouts and supporters react warily over proposal to lift ban

Andresen’s son, Ryan, 18, is still hoping he will receive Scouting’s highest ranking, the Eagle award, though the journey has done a lot of damage to him emotionally, said Eric Andresen, who resigned as the committee chair of his son’s troop after the problems began. One of the family’s main objectives was to help others, such as boys who may still be hiding in the closet.

“I’m hoping that the board continues to do what’s right and deliberate this week and make the decision that we hope they’re going to make,” he said. “If they don’t, we’ll be back.”Related stories: 
If you are a current or former member of the Boy Scouts and would like to share your thoughts on how your troop, pack or council is handling the possibility of a change in the membership policy, you can email the reporter at We may use some comments for a follow-up story, so please specify if your remarks can be used and provide your name, hometown, age, Boy Scout affiliation and a phone number.

Unfortunately, the deviants will not stop until such a jewel of childhood, the Boy Scouts, has been forced into homosexuality as well, therefore effectively destroying it. Is there no end to their efforts to shove homosexuality down everybody's throats??? One thing is blatant discrimination everywhere, but it seems like homosexuals want to force their way into every single institution in existence, regardless of the consequences.
This is ridiculous.
Reply#1 - Mon Feb 4, 2013 6:24 PM EST
"Forced into homosexuality" - I love the wording. Remember that time when the Boy Scouts opened their doors to black kids as well? Gee, it sure does suck now that every scout is black and the whole institution ruined!
#1.1 - Mon Feb 4, 2013 6:41 PM EST
They're "united to express our concern about the pace at which such actions are being taken". Yeah. They'd be perfectly happy if it took another 50 or 100 years to eliminate this asinine policy. Face it, if the policy is not changed, one way or another, decent society will rightfully crush the BSA into nothing.
#1.2 - Mon Feb 4, 2013 6:48 PM EST
The Girl Scouts welcome all girls -- straight, gay, and too-young-to-have-decided. I haven't heard anything about the Girls Scouts being destroyed from within by lesbians.
#1.3 - Mon Feb 4, 2013 7:13 PM EST
Gee, the protest is coming out of Utah; what a surprise.....
These are the people who referred to blacks as 'mud people' until the 70s, and gave up polygamy (well, some of 'em... LOL!) for statehood. I guess their 'religious' principles aren't carved in stone (or on gold sheets) quite as hard as you might think.
Time for their 'prophet' to talk to God again... must be a bad connection or something....
#1.4 - Mon Feb 4, 2013 8:00 PM EST
I was a Boy Scout and felt it was a great organization for kids but if I were to have my own and they maintained this policy? No way I'd let them go. Time for the Boys to man up and end their bigotry.
I'm just thankful our society is changing into a more accepting society and that we are crushing your kind like cockroaches left and right. Somehow you still seem to pop up...
#1.5 - Mon Feb 4, 2013 8:20 PM EST
Forced into homosexuality??? About the young girls forced into marriage by the LDS (Mormons) ...don't throw stones
#1.6 - Mon Feb 4, 2013 8:21 PM EST
Absolutely ridiculous and absurd. Who's forcing anything down your throat sir? First, you already have gay boys in the scouts....they just aren't "out", just like the military. Second, your same tired argument as the racists 50 years ago is ridiculous. Now that the BSA (just like the Mormon Church....funny that this is being spearheaded in SLCity) allows "blacks", did the organization go under? I'm NOT sorry to say that social evolution is a good thing, whether you like it or not. I am am your equal.....and if you do not accept that, then screw you.....but you do not have the right to anything more than me! That is second class citizenship, something that event a conservative Supreme Court a generation or two ago said was wrong. And by the way, while you may not understand or even agree with homosexuality, that does not make my life immoral....just not your life. My choice is to accept myself, not ignore who I am.
#1.7 - Mon Feb 4, 2013 8:24 PM EST
Poor Jay-2150677,
With his bigotry and hate filled eyes hasn't quite figured out that the gays are already there, in the scouts. What a douche.....
#1.8 - Mon Feb 4, 2013 8:59 PM EST
Funny, never heard of an 8 year old boy 'knowing' he's gay or even what it means. Perhaps if we leave the boys alone to just learn how to tie knots and sing around the campfire there would be a lot less confusion.
#1.9 - Mon Feb 4, 2013 9:02 PM EST
The Girl Scouts welcome all girls -- straight, gay, and too-young-to-have-decided. I haven't heard anything about the Girls Scouts being destroyed from within by lesbians.
Try Planned Parenthood. Just another platform for liberals to focus on. Girls Scouts get Planned Parenthood, Boy Scouts want Gay Scout leaders? Since when did the Scouts become a platform for someone's sexual, morally deficient behavior?
#1.10 - Mon Feb 4, 2013 9:03 PM EST
Gotta love it, gays don't get tax deductions for being married, then those tax dollars get soaked up by $1 leases and other scams so the people who hate them can steal their money and preach how evil they are... but if the gays dare complain about being robbed to pay for these bigots, then clearly the gays are "forcing them into homosexuality." Horsepucky. I support the BSA's right to be bigots, but they need to learn to do it on their own dime instead of sucking up local, state, and federal resources to do it.
#1.11 - Mon Feb 4, 2013 9:13 PM EST
Absolutely ridiculous and absurd. Who's forcing anything down your throat sir? First, you already have gay boys in the scouts....they just aren't "out", just like the military.
Carsonk: Good for them. We are hoping that those boys who are questioning their sexuality has a little more time to decide till they become obnoxious like all the rest of the gays. At least in the scouts, their is some assemblence of normalcy. Don't like it.... then set up a scout meeting at a local gay bar for those kids. Watch their reaction to see how life will really be like. NO different than taking kids to prison to " scare them straight" so to speak.
I support the BSA's right to be bigots, but they need to learn to do it on their own dime instead of sucking up local, state, and federal resources to do it.
Ken: My thoughts exactly on Planned Parenthood.
#1.12 - Mon Feb 4, 2013 9:18 PM EST
Wow, that is a very prejudiced and ill-informed comment about a group of people. How would you respond if someone attacked gays in the same way you attacked Mormons? Talk about double standards.
#1.13 - Mon Feb 4, 2013 9:27 PM EST
So if gay boys cannot enjoy scouting with the BSA. Then lets create new scouting group and we will call it NSBABSA. "No Straight Boys Allowed Boys Scouts of America". Bigots abound in the world. There will never be real harmony in the world, ever!
#1.14 - Mon Feb 4, 2013 9:38 PM EST
A deep, abiding faith in god and strong morals is not bigotry. Don't like the BSA form your own scouts.
#1.15 - Mon Feb 4, 2013 9:53 PM EST
Jay-2150677 Homophobic much. You can't catch being gay. it is not like the mumps, or the common cold. Children actually know they are different, sometimes as young as five. you like to spout hate, slander the LBGT by calling them deviants, trying to force the Boy Scouts into homosexuals, like I said earlier, it does not work that way. They are as human as you or I, made in God's image. If God had not wanted anyone who was different, and not one of his children, he would not have allowed them to be. God loves all of HIS creation, all HIS children. LOVE, that is a word that is not in your vocabulary, is it? Well it is in God's, and grace and forgiveness. You Jay have none of those words in your heart, mind or soul. I pity you Jay. And I hope and pray that be4 you meet your God, you gain those words and their feeling. Good night Jay
#1.16 - Mon Feb 4, 2013 9:56 PM EST

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