Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Boy Scouts of America: Worthy Standards

Last week The Boy Scouts of America decided it was okay to change their leadership policy and lift the ban on homosexual orientation leaders. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints (LDS Church) an enormous supporter of this organization then issued this statement: “As a chartering organization, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has always had the right to select Scout leaders who adhere to moral and religious principles that are consistent with our doctrines and beliefs.  Any resolution adopted by the Boy Scouts of America regarding leadership in Scouting must continue to affirm that right.”

This is great news for our Young Men’s program (a focused program for boys ages 12-18) as I feel most of us thought when this ban was actually lifted; the Boy Scout organization would no longer be a part of our program. All five of my sons have participated in Scouting during their teen years and we have loved what it represents: “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.”  These are worthy goals for any boy.

Boy's Camp at Camp Maubila Alabama
The Church’s position in keeping the scouting program alive shows a certain amount of compassion for all walks of life and although some might have a different standard in their personal life, everyone can have the opportunity to be a scout through other chapters of the Boy Scouts.
With this new announcement, concerns have already been voiced in social media but have been resolved through LDS Church standards as well:

Concern 1: “Leaders and boys won’t have to live by the standards of the LDS Church to participate in the Boy Scout program for the LDS Church.”

LDS Scouting Handbook: 8.1 Standards
“Church standards should be upheld at all Scout sponsored activities. All Scouts and their leaders who are registered in Latter-day Saint Scouting units are expected to live the standards of the Church as outlined in For the Strength of Youth."

Concern 2: “Any male can serve as a Scout leader for a troop of boys regardless of sexual orientation.”
LDS Scouting Handbook: 8.5 Calling Adult Scouting Leaders
“Worthy adults, whether members of the Church or not, may be called to serve as Scouting leaders. A current membership record of each member called to serve in Scouting should be in the local unit. All adult Scouting leaders must be properly registered and must complete Youth Protection Training before beginning their service."

The Youth Protection Training is there for a purpose: to protect the youth which any conscientious Scout leader would want in helping the boys in the troop to succeed. 

Concern 3: “Boys might be left alone with a Scout leader to fend for themselves.”
LDS Scouting Handbook: 8.7 Two-Deep Leadership

“Two registered adult leaders or one registered adult leader and a parent of a participant (one of whom must be 21 years of age or older) are required for all Scouting trips, outings, classes, and meetings...When camping, no youth is permitted to sleep in the tent of an adult other than his own parent or guardian."
The LDS Church will continue to organize and select leaders as they always have. This has never been a problem. The real concern voiced recently is this: Would parents feel comfortable sending their sons to Scout camps, Jamborees and District Activities led by Boy Scout Staff with other non-LDS scouts and leaders who might have a different sexual preference?

Personally, I would feel comfortable sending my own boys because the rules are the same for all trained leaders in the Boy Scouts of America. Two trained leaders deep for every scout and boys are not left alone with leaders or stay in the same tent. Camps and Jamborees will continue on as was before.  I would think it would be even more difficult for abuse to happen as there are so many people around these functions, there would be less of a chance. But if parents still feel uncomfortable, they should talk to their Scout leaders about their concerns and keep communication open with their sons. That is the best way to keep a handle on it.

With the understanding that the LDS Church is one of the biggest supporters of the Boy Scouts of America and would stop their support if policy change would force all churches and organizations to include leaders without the trained two-deep standard or homosexual orientation, the BSA organization would lose out to an entire nation of trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent boys. I’m sure the BSA organization will take every opportunity to allow LDS Church charters to continue picking their own leaders according to their own standards.  I find comfort in knowing this and will look forward to my grandsons participating in scouting for years to come.