BSA gay: An LDS dilemma
As it promised last summer, the embattled Boy Scouts of America will soon announce its stance on gay Scouts and leaders. The organization had been taking criticism for kicking out a popular Cub Scout den mother in Ohio and for rejecting the Eagle Scout application of a gay California youth.
A decision is expected after BSA concludes its national board meetings in early February. It will certainly have interesting implications for the LDS Church, the nation’s largest single sponsor of Scouting. The church has recently made a public effort to reach out to individuals identifying themselves as having same-sex attraction.
On one hand, if BSA maintains its exclusion of gay members and leaders, the policy could be at odds with the LDS policy of extending full fellowship to openly gay individuals provided they do not act on their sexual urges.
On the other hand, if the new BSA policy comes down as expected — pushing the decision of gay acceptance or exclusion to the local unit level — then the church will face some interesting questions: How far does full fellowship extend? Will the parents of young boys in the Scouting program accept an openly gay Scoutmaster, or an openly gay youth sharing a pup tent? It may be one thing to have an openly gay ward clerk but quite something else to endorse the close relations of a gay adult with young people. Surely, sexual orientation cannot be kept secret for long.
The church puts tremendous emphasis on its youth programs as it builds the next generation of faithful members. Would the installation of a gay or lesbian Scout leader send a normalizing message to young members? This is a delicate matter, and one that will be difficult to skirt. As all major sponsoring organizations have given input to BSA over recent months, one cannot help but be curious: What did the LDS Church advise? The church declined to comment on Monday.