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Scouts Survey Members On Whether to Keep Gay Ban

by Nigel Duara
Wednesday Mar 13, 2013

Faced with a backlash against their ban on gays, the Boy Scouts of America are surveying their members on a potential change in policy.

A questionnaire distributed to 1.1 million adult Scouts uses fictional situations to discern where Scouting's membership falls on questions of homosexuality, gays camping with children and gays in church leadership. It allows adult Scouts to indicate a range of feelings, from strong support to strong opposition to the ban on gays.

Some questions are direct queries of the respondent's feelings on homosexuality and children.

"Bob is 15 years old, and the only openly gay Scout in a Boy Scout troop," the survey begins its third question. "Is it acceptable or unacceptable for the troop leader to allow Bob to tent with a heterosexual boy on an overnight camping trip?"

But the majority of the 13-question survey is more nuanced, including two open-ended questions about the impact of either banning or allowing gay members. Many of the questions indicate scenarios that would likely arise should the ban on gays be lifted.

For instance, should the lesbian mother of a Tiger Cub be allowed to serve as den leader if the pack is chartered to a church that teaches that homosexuality is not wrong? Should a gay youth minister be allowed to serve as a Scoutmaster? Should a boy with the qualifications for Eagle Scout be denied the award if he reveals he's gay at his board review?

After the theoretical situations are posed, the survey then again asks respondents about their feelings on gays in Scouting. The Scouts provided the survey by email Tuesday morning to The Associated Press.

Long the province of a strict anti-gay policy that went so far as to put members found to be gay in the organization's secret "perversion" files, Scouting has now generally evolved into a sort of "don't-ask, don't-tell" policy concerning its membership - even if the "don't-tell" aspect means the national leadership has had to ignore news accounts of its troops publicly declaring their refusal to abide by the ban on gays.

That's already happening in some branches of the organization, including troops in Minnesota, California and Massachusetts, but few troops are eager to publicize their positions, which could end with the troop losing its charter for breaking with the central Scouts office.

The survey introduces the possibility of acknowledging those differences.

"Different organizations that charter Boy Scout troops have different positions on the morality of homosexuality," the survey said. "Do you support or oppose allowing charter organizations to follow their own beliefs when selecting Boy Scout members and adult leaders, if that means there will be different standards from one organization to the next?"

The survey questions are part of a semi-annual survey called The Voice of The Scout. It was distributed via email to registered volunteers and parents of Scouts of whom the organization had email addresses. Scouts alumni will receive the surveys in "the next couple of days," said Scouts spokesman Deron Smith. Current Boy Scouts weren't sent these questions.

The questions were developed by North Star Opinion Research, a Virginia research firm that says it serves political, corporate and nonprofit clients.

"We are currently in the 'Listening Phase,' where the BSA's committees engage key stakeholders for input and develop a summary report," Smith said in an email. "Part of this process is to survey a variety of key stakeholders."

Smith said the organization convened a committee in 2010 made up of professional and volunteer Scouts to review the gay ban. After two years of research, Smith said the committee decided to maintain the policy.

In May, that could change. A proposed resolution that will address whether to modify or rescind the policy will be developed for the Scouts' National Council to vote on.

Copyright Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


  • Oh Jed said:, 2013-03-13 13:11:03

    Bob must be segregated from the normal, healthy, God-fearing scouts at all costs. He needs to have his own tent with a big pink triangle on the roof. His tent must be away from the others, but near the straight scout master so he can be "inspected" during the night for unnatural erectile activity.

  • Unbreakable1, 2013-03-13 17:02:17

    Damn it Jed. I could kiss you, but my husband might get a little upset with me. We don’t need the Boy Scouts. We can form our own national organization for youth that’s open and welcoming to all. The ignornant, hateful heteros can continue to send their kids to the BSA and really put them in harms way of molestation. Child molesters are typically married hetero men.

  • Oh Jed said:, 2013-03-13 18:57:08

    Thanks. You made my day. :)

  • Bob K, 2013-03-14 04:28:44

    Bob, having been in scouting since he was 7, with all this lifelong friends, has discovered at 15 that he is Gay. What means should be used to transport him to the nearest camp of "Gay Scouts" that the asshole mormon and knights of columbus folks suggest should exist?

  • Wayne M., 2013-03-14 17:46:20

    Ending discrimination of any kind should not be a matter of public opinion or support. We end discrimination and exclusion because it is wrong, PERIOD! This applies whether the discrimination is based on religion, race, culture OR sexual orientation. End the ban. PERIOD! If those opposed to ending this form of discrimination are upset by this, they are free to leave.

  • GAG'EM, 2013-03-17 01:43:56

    Fifty years ago the bigots in this country were debating to what degree black people should be treated like human beings. Now most are horrified at the indignities of segregation. Let’s hope that in 50 years the bigots will be equally horrified by the indignities of homophobia.

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