Talk:Boy Scouts of America membership controversies/Archive 2

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Printed pamphlet

Does anyone else have a copy of On the Front Line of the Culture War: Recent Attacks on the Boy Scouts of America, written by William A. Donohue, published by The Claremont Institute, ISBN 0-930783-20-4 ? There are good summaries for the legal cases brought up dealing with homosexuality and atheism. Donohue is (was?) a Professor and Chairman of the Department of Sociology at La Roche College. The pamphlet (which is about 40 pages or so, total) also has an excellent Churchill quote that might be used elsewhere here: "It [the Scouting movement] speaks to every heart its message of duty and honor: "Be Prepared" to stand up faithfully for Right and Truth, however the winds may blow." This same quote is cited on many pages about scouting, as I quickly verified through Google. --JohnDBuell 16:21, 29 January 2006 (UTC)

Scout Law

Actually, the Scout Law is much more open to interpretation, but still requires belief in something. The key point there is "A Scout is Reverent" Once again the interpretation of that is left to the Scout, his parents, and religious advisors, if any. While the official explanation is "A Scout is reverent toward God. He is faithful in his religious duties. He respects the beliefs of others", that doesn't have to be memorized nor is actually part of the Law. It's the individual Scout who determines how he is meeting it.

Incidently, the simple beauty of BP's concept for the Scout Law is that tells you what you should aspire towards, not what you can't do as most other laws do.

Neutral point of view (NPOV) policy

Wikipedia uses the "neutral point of view", which means we strive for articles that advocate no single point of view. Sometimes this requires representing multiple points of view; presenting each point of view accurately; providing context for any given point of view, so that readers understand whose view the point represents; and presenting no one point of view as "the truth" or "the best view." It means citing verifiable, authoritative sources whenever possible, especially on controversial topics. When a conflict arises as to which version is the most neutral, declare a cool-down period and tag the article as disputed; hammer out details on the talk page and follow dispute resolution. (See: Wikipedia:Neutral point of view and also Wikipedia:Five pillars)

This means that everything should not be written from the point of veiw of the BSA, World Organization of the Scout Movement, your church, Baden-Powell, or you.--Jagz 18:21, 3 February 2006 (UTC)

Considering that the original article back in November looked liked it was written by lawyers from the ACLU, I would say things have improved a lot!

Controversy within the BSA

I've seen the comment that there is no substantial controversy within the BSA itself, it's people outside the BSA that have a problem. It's more accurate to say that people within the BSA who want a change in policy keep quiet and those on the outside are there primarily because they were excluded from the BSA by their policies.--Jagz 18:21, 3 February 2006 (UTC)

Yes, it is quite true that there are many members of various Scouting associations who keep quiet about certain things for fear of being kicked out. --Naha|(talk) 19:25, 3 February 2006 (UTC)

Not really true. Are you currently in Scouting? As a volunteer Commissioner, I know hundreds of Scout leaders in the organization. We don't walk around in fear of expressing our opinions but neither do we go running to press. Look how few of the 110 million members of BSA have ever been kicked out. Our major objective is usually getting more leaders and kids, not getting rid of them!

It would be almost impossible for you to find out their true feelings.
How would you know that? How many campfires have you joined us at? GCW 4 Feb

While I wouldn't say there is "no" controversy, it's not really anywhere near the top of most Scouters' agenda. If we ever think about it, some of us have differing positions about the homosexual issue. Many feel that the defacto "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy (similar to the US government's own military!) actually in use in most councils when coupled with the YPP is adequate. Virtually all Scouters agree with keeping the Scout Oath as it is. We tend to regard the religious concern as a "non-issue", since "God" in Scouting terms already means whatever the individual decides it does for themselves.

Are you saying most people in the BSA just ignore the rules against gays and atheists? To me, that would indicate that these rules are a problem, because the people in charge with enforcing these rules are ignoring them instead.
The controversy is more about the official BSA policies than how they are observed in practice.
But the effect of pursuing the "controversy" is not caring about hurting lots of kids in the process. It's that self-centeredness that the Scouting program is designed to teach kids to ignore.-GCW
Your meaning still isn't clear. Are you saying that most people in the BSA just ignore the rules against gays and atheists, because to enforce them would hurt lots of kids in the process? I personally would agree with that statement, but I'm not sure you're making that statement.Brian Westley 04:47, 5 February 2006 (UTC)
What I'm saying is the harrasment of BSA by activists to deny access and funding hurts kids in general. While it's on the BSA website in position papers for those who want to get excited about the subjects, there is no mention of the words "atheism" or "homosexual" in any of the current handbooks, literature or leader training material at any level in BSA. One has to really want to call attention to themselves or want to make it a personal cause to get it to be a problem. Also, BSA has one professional per district of 50 units so the typical unit is never visited by a professional, possibly just a volunteer commissioner like myself a few times a year. And my primary role in my volunteer job description is to help the unit succeed, not witchhunt. GCW
Do you consider the ACLU's letter to the BSA to stop all public school charters to be "denying access" and hurting kids in general? If so, what would you suggest the ACLU do when it finds thousands of public schools owning and operating private clubs with religious requirements for membership? Brian Westley 20:21, 5 February 2006 (UTC)
It's funny how it took them 93 years to discover such a horrendous outrage of chartering a Boy Scout troop!!
Not really; before then, most people seemed to think the BSA was a public accommodation and that atheists were allowed. By the way, you didn't answer my question: what do you think the ACLU should have done? Allow thousands of public schools to discriminate on the basis of religion? Brian Westley 23:13, 5 February 2006 (UTC)
Before when? And nobody except certain legal types ever thought of the BSA as a 'public accomodation'. (most won't know what the hell that meant). For many people for generations, the issue of atheists being allowed in or not was just NOT an issue. We felt that most people were Jews or Christians. The issue of there also being atheists and that we had to respect their rights was something that really didn't enter into all this until the 1960s or so. --Emb021 19:34, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
Having government agencies and public schools (which cannot discriminate on the basis of religion) own & operate BSA units for decades certainly made it appear that the BSA was a public accomodation. Brian Westley 02:27, 7 February 2006 (UTC)
Again, for many people for decades this was a non-issue. Now that it is, the BSA no longer recommends that this happens. --Emb021 16:17, 7 February 2006 (UTC)
It was a "non-issue" only in the same sense that whites-only public swimming pools were a non-issue in the 1940s. Chartering BSA units to public schools doesn't just "happen"; the national BSA continued to issue charters to public schools even after declaring itself to be a private organization that excludes atheists and gays. The BSA didn't stop doing this voluntarily, they had to be threatened with lawsuits. Brian Westley 00:17, 8 February 2006 (UTC)

I also wouldn't be suprised that the BSA position on homosexual leaders evolves slowly over time, especially if the US Congress ever amends the Federal Civil Rights Act to make sexual preference a protected federal civil right. That would have been a better venue to approach the issue than pressuring BSA directly and getting it to dig in its heels on the issue. (You can already see the slow change in the position statements about homosexuals as members (not leaders) over the decade.)

I suspect some of the outside activists who got involved when these issues heated up in the early ninties expected BSA to cave like other organizations. They didn't understand that Scouting is VERY traditional and that change comes slowly. Most adults in Boy Scouting are VERY proud that their kids repeat the same oath that their fathers and grandfathers did and that some units have been in continuous existance for seventy years. (Contrast that with GSUSA who did cave quickly but also had previously changed their oath a few times and where very few individual units last more than a few years). Trying to externally force BSA to change and then trashing the Boy Scouts just gets a lot of folks who might have been more sympathetic riled up and makes it harder to do so internally. The fact that BSA stuck to it's guns all the way to the Supreme Court and then WON probably really irritated "progressives" and led to some of the current issues, but it wasn't much of a suprise to folks who knew the organization. But that's all water over the dam now.

Maybe they should add the word "obstinate" to the Scout Law.
The correct term is "principled" - GCW 4 Feb
Another point in all this is the BSA's ties to traditional/mainstream religious groups, all of whom teach that homosexuality is a sin, the BSA is unlikely to change this policy. Those who want to change the BSA are attacking the wrong group. --Emb021 19:34, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

The point is that these issues are truly minor compared to our day to day concern of running units, activities and recruiting youth and leaders. We really don't have time nor interest to engage in witchhunts or tilting at windmills. We do object to outsiders, who for the most part haven't invested years working for the kids, trashing an entire program that has helped millions of kids over miniscule issues that affect only a few. It's a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

Minorities have rights that can not be ignored just because they are a minority.
Once again, first make them legal rights by amending the Federal Civil Rights Act. GCW 4 Feb
Again, your meaning isn't clear - do you think something would change if federal civil rights legislation covered sexual orientation? Civil rights law already covers religion, and the BSA discriminates on the basis of religion.Brian Westley 05:08, 5 February 2006 (UTC)
Possibly, once it becomes an accepted and protected American value. No one asks if you're an athiest. You call the position on reciting the Scout Oath discrimination; others call it not believing in just one of the tenents of the organization - GCW
Atheism IS an accepted and protected American value. But the BSA could kick out Jews and blacks tomorrow, and they'd still have the same legal rights to do so. You seem to think the BSA only has the legal right to discriminate against unpopular minorities. Brian Westley 20:21, 5 February 2006 (UTC)
Bad example. The BSA is not going to kick such groups out. The BSA (and Scouting) is based on certain fundamental principles. If you are unable/unwilling to accept those principle, you need to find a organization that does and join it. Comparing what the BSA does with the discrimination of Jews and Blacks is incorrect. --Emb021 19:34, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
It was only an example of what would be legal. It would be just as legal for the BSA to exclude Jews and blacks. Brian Westley 04:41, 9 February 2006 (UTC)

Attempting to squash a Jamboree for 35,000 kids is a good example. The Senate agreed 98-0. When did the Senate ever vote on ANYTHING 98-0? If folks want to get endorsement for their non-traditional behaviors and beliefs, then find another icon of virtue to smash. Things might change in BSA, but it will be glacial and the GREATER the outside pressure, the SLOWER it will be.- GCW 3 Feb

I think the above shows how skewed your own views are - government support of the BSA, whether in the form of the Jamboree, or thousands of public school charters, or HUD grants for Scoutreach programs, is government support of religious discrimination, which is prohibited by the constitution. The only legal remedy (assuming the BSA will continue to insist on religious discrimination) is to stop such government support. A lot of supporters of the BSA as a "private organization" seem to not understand what "private" means. Public schools can't own & operate private clubs.Brian Westley 02:59, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
The Establishment Clause also says "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof", which is a clause many forget. BSA's open interpretation of religion is very much in line with that. We don't make Scouts go to services nor do we stop them either. As long as you believe in something more important than yourself, it's OK. This is a controversy to the outside organization that you represent in a campaign against BSA, The Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers[1], but it would be too charged to refer to them as "activists" here, isn't it? GCW 4 Feb
"As long as you believe in something more important than yourself, it's OK" - Not according to the BSA. Their official legal website flatly states that atheists and agnostics can't join, period. Belief in one or more gods is required, not merely "something more important than yourself", at least officially. Unofficially, of course, many units allow explicit atheists. As to 'activists', since Scouting For All was started by an Eagle Scout and has many Scout members, it would also be accurate to describe SFA's campaign as a campaign of Scouts to change the BSA. Does that make a neutral term look better to you? Brian Westley 05:08, 5 February 2006 (UTC)
If the founder of "Scouting For All" would have kept his efforts within the procedures of going through his chartered orgnaization through his elected council officers to BSA's National Council meeting it would have been fine (and it was so done by other Scouters but defeated in votes). Once he created a website and began issuing press releases, he became an activist. GCW
But they're also still Scouts, so it's still accurate to call them a group of Scouts trying to change the BSA. How about "activist Scouts"? Brian Westley 20:21, 5 February 2006 (UTC)
Not since they turned 18 and went public.
Adults in Scouting can still be termed "Scouts", and not all members of Scouting For All are over 18. Brian Westley 23:13, 5 February 2006 (UTC)
Nope. The definition of a Scout in BSA is one who is under 18 and registered. Over 18 and registered and you're a "Scouter." Once again, someone who obviously doesn't strong ties to or knowledge about the program.
As opposed to your own knowledge, where you insisted no government entities chartered Venture Crews? Brian Westley 02:27, 7 February 2006 (UTC)
There are no such thing as "Venture Crews" in the BSA. Venturing was created when Exploring was split off and moved to Learning for Life. So, ideally, no Venturing Crew should be chartered to government entities. If any are/were, that's the fault of local councils. --Emb021 16:17, 7 February 2006 (UTC)
Agree. Once you are an adult, you are NO LONGER A SCOUT. Am tired of such people being troted as 'poster boys' for such groups and referred to as scouts. They are former scouts &/or former scouters. --Emb021 19:34, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
"Look how few of the 110 million members of BSA have ever been kicked out." - are you kidding me? First of all, the majority of them are NOT gay. That alone is why "how few" of them have ever been kicked out. Second, a hell of a lot of them keep their mouths shut because they enjoying Scouting so much. I know at least half a dozen gay Scouts that have vowed never to make their sexual orientation known because they want to stay in the program. I also have a gay friend that was "dismissed" from the BSA because he refused to keep his orientation a secret. While I agree that gays in Scouting is not at the top of leader's agendas, it is a "problem." (By the way, this has nothing to do with my views on how the article(s) should or should not be written, I just can't sit quiet and listen to this without saying something). --Naha|(talk) 03:21, 4 February 2006 (UTC)
I also know a few Scout Leaders who are homosexual, but they keep it quiet and out of Scouting and the press. Thus they are are not "Known or Avowed" and aren't prohibited. Your friends should keep their mouths shut, just as hetereosexuals who flaunt promiscutity or adultery aren't acceptable role models in BSA either. Quite frankly, anyone who makes sexual activity a prominent part of their public life isn't a good role model for an organization designed to teach moral behavior to kids. They have their priorities misplaced.
While I agree that anyone who "flaunts promiscuity or adultery [is not an] acceptable role model in BSA," heterosexuality, homosexuality or any other orientation is not anywhere close to being mainly about "sexual activity," regardless of how much the media would like people to believe it is. Furthermore, the fact that someone is gay, doesn't mean their "gayness" is automatically going to be a "prominent part of their public life." Lets set up a scenario, shall we? Many times, when someone (be it a Leader or a Scout) is going to recieve an award for some aspect of Scouting, there will be a ceremony and presentation involved - like when a Scout earns the rank of Eagle. Typically, that Leader, or Scout, will want to invite their family and close friends to the ceremony - I have attended many of these. Family includes significant others, be it husbands, wives, boyfriends or girlfriends. I fail to see how the mere presence of a same-sex partner at one of these functions, sitting in the crowd with everyone else in support of their loved one is innapropriate or seen as "flaunting" any more than an opposite-sex partner, but many people do. Situations like this is where the problems lay. I mean, there is a difference between a Leader having his Scouts design gay-pride flags for an art badge and simply having a same-sex partner who might be seen from time to time, because it is expected. Sometimes people are expected to bring their significant others to certain events, thats just the way the world works, in and outside of Scouting. P.S. I don't think Brian was trying to say anything necessairly in disagreement with what I just said, I just felt the need to expand on it. If I'm wrong, oh well.--Naha|(talk) 22:12, 5 February 2006 (UTC)
Dennis St. Jean wasn't known or avowed, but he was kicked out anyway.Brian Westley 05:08, 5 February 2006 (UTC)
Visiting gay guest houses while you're a professional now in charge of one of BSA's premier national activities attended by thousands of kids each year isn't exactly being discreet. GCW
So by "being discreet", you mean never doing anything, anywhere, that anyone could even mistake for gay behavior? Oh, the BSA doesn't conduct witchhunts, but you can't even stay at a hotel, hundreds of miles away, known for having gay clientele. By the way, it's a public accommodation, so straights can stay there, too - so how did the BSA know he was gay? They didn't. Brian Westley 20:21, 5 February 2006 (UTC)
Uh, he wasn't discreet. There is more to that story then what is in Mother Jones, and how the BSA found out is not in that article. Sorry, I won't state what I've learned about it. --Emb021 19:34, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
The BSA is starting to believe its own propaganda campaign; all those Norman Rockwell-like drawings and such. Next they'll have you believing it has nothing to do with donations/cash flow/pay checks.
The US Constitution remains unaltered as a result of the 98-0 Senate vote. Regarding the National Scout Jamboree, the US Constitution has become somewhat of a tar baby for the BSA.
Correct that the Constitution remains unaltered including "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." We'll see how the Appellate court rules and if necessary, the Supreme Court. Last I recall (from Citizenship in the Nation Merit Badge) they're the ones who have the actual authority for intepreting the Constitution, not MAAF. The DOJ brief is very solid, including cases going back over a hundred years and now both the sense of Congress and the Executive Branch will also enter in it. The new Supreme Court takes a dim view at judges ignoring legislative mandates. I'm fairly certain that the 2010 Jamboree will be back at "the Hill" with the court's blessing. Let's just let it go until the courts decide. Until then, it's still more controversy "about" BSA, then "within" BSA- GCW 4 Feb
When did "the free exercise thereof" mean entitlement to government financing?Brian Westley 05:08, 5 February 2006 (UTC)
When the funding has nothing to do with religion and is used to facilitate the military's training and recruiting missions. GCW
When that funding is ONLY available to aid a private, discriminatory, religious organization, then no, that isn't "free exercise", that's "free lunch". The judge struck down a federal statute that funded only the BSA's jamboree. Brian Westley 20:21, 5 February 2006 (UTC)
It's not a religious organization and the support is available to other youth organizations listed in the original 1972 statute, if they wish, but GSUSA stopped holding their equivalent "Round-ups" a while back. Not too many other organizatuions are capable of amassing a similar gathering of people for such a training exercise.
Sorry, the BSA has state in court under oath that they ARE a "religious organization", and judges are ruling with that in mind. And the judge's decision was against specific legislation that only funded the Jamboree, which is why it was struck down as unconstitutional. Brian Westley 23:13, 5 February 2006 (UTC)
Sorry, but whoever said that of the BSA, regardless of whether it was under oath, was wrong. When we speak of a group being a "religious organization", it almost always means a group that promotes or professes a specific religious belief. The BSA does NOT do that. They only expect that its members have some kind of religious belief, but do not promote or profess any specific one. Thus, its incorrect to speak of the BSA as a 'JudeoChristian' organization or a 'religious organization'. --Emb021 19:34, 6 February 2006 (UTC)
I think I'll just let you continue having fun making mountains out of molehills and not caring what you hurt in the process. I intent to spend more time helping kids learn how to climb them. However I will continue to correct the errors in fact that were originally posted in the actual article in the Fall. To try and get back to the original question, yet once again, none of this is much of a controversy nor really ever comes up much within BSA. - GCW
I'll just continue to defend the civil rights of atheists, which includes not having any government agency discriminate against atheists by giving special support to the BSA using my tax money. And no, I don't consider religious rights to be molehills, though you obviously don't care about atheists' civil rights, and you don't care who you and the BSA hurts in the process. Brian Westley 23:13, 5 February 2006 (UTC)
Ever thought to consider that the BSA isn't hurting anyone? The only people I see hurt are kids denied a great program because a bunch of adults are more interested in achieving a political goal for their own purposes. --Emb021 16:24, 7 February 2006 (UTC)
What about the gay and atheist kids who are excluded from the outset? They don't seem to count for anything in your view. Should public schools be able to own & operate clubs that exclude Jews? Should the US military spending millions of dollars every four years to run a gathering for a private club that excludes Catholics? The legal principles are identical. Is a "no Jews allowed" club run by the government hurting anyone? Brian Westley 00:23, 8 February 2006 (UTC)
I was a Boy Scout back in 1982. I was not *required* to join the Boy Scouts. The particular troop I joined was sponsored by the local Presbyterian church (I was born and raised Roman Catholic). The Boy Scout troop is intended to be run by the Patrol Leaders with direct guidance the Scoutmaster. The Scoutmaster is to receive support from other adults. The objective - the aim - of the game of Scouting is to give boys the foundation to become good citizens. Nowhere in this scheme is the allowance for the game to become a platform of political agendas - of *any* sort. The issue of homosexuality is a POLITICAL issue. Scouting is NOT the proper forum to become a soapbox for the Advocate or any other pro-active homosexual group, or other political groups such as the ACLU. As for the religious controversy, the Scouting movement is no more a religious institution than the Freemasons, or their Shriner sub-group. If there are enough homosexuals and atheists who want to, let them start their own scouting movement, as has happened by other groups in the past. There is no *requirement* for them to be members of the Scouting movement, nor is there any *prohibition* from them starting their own organisations.DarrenR114 18:49, 20 February 2006 (UTC)

BSA can breakaway from the World Organization of the Scout Movement, then use a non-spiritual Scout oath (see article)

BSA should consider resigning from the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM) and either join another existing international Scouting organization, starting a new international Scouting organization, or stay independent. WOSM essentially mandates religion or spirituality instead of just encouraging it or remaining neutral and letting each National Scout Organization make their own choice.--Jagz 06:10, 7 February 2006 (UTC)

Per the Founder, one of the Fundamental Principles of Scouting is 'duty to God'. Allowing scouts to not recognize some level of religion/spirituality kind of defeats that purpose. Frankly, I see little problem with how WOSM deals with the issue. What I see as a bigger problem is those inside & outside the program who think that Scouting or the BSA is a "religious organization", or worse, a "JudeoChristian" one. The BSA already welcomes a wide range of religious beliefs/groups, and need to welcome more. --Emb021 16:20, 7 February 2006 (UTC)
An organization that requires its members to swear an oath of duty to God is undoubtedly a religious organization. Just because the founder of the Scouting Movement said or wrote something a long time ago doesn't mean we have to cling to those beliefs without question forever. I think Scouting would be better off encouraging spirituality rather than mandating it.--Jagz 20:51, 7 February 2006 (UTC)
As I noted above, for most people when you speak of a "religious organization", it refers to a group that puts forth a particular/specific belief. Scouting mearly says you must have SOME kind of belief, but does not specify what it must be. The Founder set down what is Scouting. If we are not following those principles, are we really doing Scouting? And Scouting IS all about encouraging spirituality. --Emb021 23:01, 7 February 2006 (UTC)
Then stop whining about losing government support. The US government can't encourage people to believe in gods, that's unconstitutional. Pick one: (1) religious requirements (2) government support. You can't make (1) "mushy" enough to make (2) OK if even a single person can be excluded for not meeting your religious requirements. Brian Westley 00:27, 8 February 2006 (UTC)
The Save Our Scouts Act was passed and signed into law 30 Dec. The Senate vote was 98-0. When was the last time prior to that the Senate voted 98-0 on anything? That's a pretty emphatic statement. Those who don't like the BSA are free to go form (or join) their own organization, such as Scouting For All has done. Rlevse 02:02, 8 February 2006 (UTC)
Those who don't like living under the constitution with everyone having equal religious freedom (instead of the government selectively supporting those with 'acceptable' religious views) are free to leave the country. And by the way, Scouting For All is not a youth organization, it's an advocacy group that is trying to change the BSA's policies. Brian Westley 03:30, 8 February 2006 (UTC)

As a member of WOSM, BSA must include a reference to "God" in the Scout Oath; this is related to several controversies discussed in the article including that of the future of the National Scout Jamboree. If BSA was no longer a member of WOSM, it could have a non-spiritual Scout oath.--Jagz 08:30, 8 February 2006 (UTC)

That's about as likely as GSUSA quitting WAGGGS. And it would prohibit BSA Scouts from attending WOSM sponsored World Jamborees, such as the 2007 100th anniversary one in England, as well as other international exchange programs.
As a practical matter, the only other international scouting organization that has more members than letters in its name (and it's still miniscule compare to WOSM) are the Baden-Powell Scouts, who actually want even *more* traditional Scouting based on B-P's writings. Remember, it was B-P who stated in the very first Scouting for Boys “No man is much good unless he believes in God and obeys His laws. So every Scout should have a religion” , so I don't see how BSA moving there would solve much controversy. BTW, the Federal Charters prohibit youth organizations other than BSA or GSUSA from using the word "Scout" in the USA -GCW 8 Feb
The only solution is a Scout revolt against WOSM, reminiscent of the Boston Tea Party. Cartons of their purple world membership badges could be deep-sixed nationwide, starting in Boston Harbor on July 4. The US would then be on the path of freedom from their tyrannical, oppressive policies.
This all presumes BSA and it's members actually want to change the oath in the first place. From what I see, there's little support for that within BSA. While some local councils proposed changing the rules about sexual preference, none to my knowledge have ever proposed changing the oath. Once again, most Scouters feel that leaving the interpretation of what "Duty to God" means to the boy and his parents handles it in the vast majority of cases. For example, the hundreds of thousands of Buddhist Scouts around the world seem to have no problem with it. GCW 9 Feb
Actually, discussion about changing the oath is really someone's own opinion about a solution that no one expects anyone to adopt. The history, requirments and suggested alternatives for an oath belong in the Scout Oath article, not this one. I've removed the whole section (as well as the ancient history sections on Women, Race and Sexual Abuse)to get us within Wikipedia article length guidelines- GCW
Sounds like you don't care for the ACLU but that is POV. If there are current controversies on women, race, sexual abuse, etc., (either within or outside the BSA) then I think you should put those sections back in. (Also, there is a way to sign your Talk comments with date and timestamp using the Editing icon, second from the right.)--Jagz 16:28, 10 February 2006 (UTC)

The purpose of article talk pages... NOT to quibble about personal ideals or feelings. Talk pages exist to discuss the formation of their articles. I wont say I'm not guilty of getting mixed up in (sometimes heated) discussions that involve personal beliefs, values, morals, opinions, politics or whatever else, because I have, and 3 of my comments can be seen above on this very page. But I plan to stop it, now. This is rediculous. There are chatrooms and message boards all over the Internet for discussing personal opinions like the ones expressed on this talk page. If thats how you need to express yourself, then go there and do it. If you want to contribute to encyclopedia articles in a constructive manner, then please stay because we desperately need you.

I'm tired of having to sift through all the opinionated bullshit on this (and other Scouting) talk pages to see if anyone has made a comment regarding the direction/content (or lack there of)/etc. of articles in the Scouting Project, so that I may be of some assistance. Tired of it. Sick of it. I'm here to help write and improve encyclopedia articles, not to get into arguments related to them or to have to read them because they are everywhere instead of talk regarding the article itself. Opinions please go elsewhere, at LEAST to your personal user talk pages. Everything else, please stay, we have some work to do. Agendas are not needed here, researchers and editors are. Thanks, --Naha|(talk) 04:45, 8 February 2006 (UTC)

You may not know it but the name of this article was recently changed form "Controversies in the Boy Scouts of America" to "Controversies about the Boy Scouts of America" because some people said there really was no controversy "in" the BSA. This is why "Controversy within the BSA" is being discussed.
Exactly!! Apart from me, are there any other currently registered Scouts or Scouters even participating here who can comment on the question from WITHIN BSA? And once again from my 35 years of being registered in BSA, being a current Unit Commissioner and having been SysOp of the old Scouting Forum on CIS in the pre-WWW days when many of the cases were being initiated, the issues are mostly non-issue WITHIN BSA. The issue was brought up at the 2001 National Conference. I haven't heard of any other Councils asking to bring it up again. However many Scouters really do resent outsiders trying to keep kids from having fun at the National Jamboree at Fort AP Hill. The controversy is more OUTSIDE BSA and thus it's ABOUT BSA not in BSA. GCW 8 Feb
No, I think Scouts and Scouters tend to keep quiet about advocacy for change for concern of being kicked out, upsetting their unit or BSA, or hurting their chances at advancement. BSA probably has many non-avowed homosexuals and atheists/agnostics among its ranks. The issue is the kids that are being excluded from having fun at Jamborees.--Jagz 17:33, 8 February 2006 (UTC)
"BSA probably has many non-avowed homosexuals and atheists/agnostics among its ranks." As long as they stay in that "non-avowed" state, there's little controversy in BSA! GCW 8 Feb
Discussion about breaking away from WOSM is related to several controversies discussed in the article. As a WOSM member, BSA must include a reference to "God" in the Scout Oath. Scouts affirming a belief in God or swearing an oath of duty to God is pertinent to several current BSA controversies. If BSA quit WOSM, they could remove the word "God" from the Scout Oath. I've included a section in the article about a non-spiritual oath.--Jagz 08:00, 8 February 2006 (UTC)
I'm sorry, but does you reply to mean you will stop inflicting personal opinions on the rest of us or not? I couldn't quite tell. You started a section of this article specifically to state your opinions. No where in the above section does it say "this part of the article should be like this or that" or that "I feel x part of the article is unbalenced," instead you just plowed right into the opionion that "BSA should breakaway from the World Organization of the Scout Movement" with no mention of the article or how your opinion relates to it.
Just so we are clear here:
"On Wikipedia, the purpose of a talk page is to help to improve the contents of the main page, from an encyclopedic point of view. Questions, challenges, excised text (due to truly egregious confusion or bias, for example), arguments relevant to changing the text, and commentary on the main page are all fair play.
Wikipedians generally oppose the use of talk pages just for the purpose of partisan talk about the main subject. Wikipedia is not a soapbox; it's an encyclopedia. In other words, talk about the article, not about the subject. It's only the habits we encourage that keep Wikipedia from turning into another h2g2 or Everything2. See also: Wikiquette"
So seriously, stop it. --Naha|(talk) 14:26, 8 February 2006 (UTC)
I changed the title.--Jagz 17:50, 8 February 2006 (UTC)
Changing the title does not change your apparent intentions of using this talkpage as a soapbox - a purpose for which it was never intended. --Naha|(talk) 19:48, 8 February 2006 (UTC)

Scouts Canada

I sent an email to SCOUT eh! regarding the accuracy of a couple of statements in the article about Scouts Canada. SCOUT eh! is a group of "registered Scouts Canada members from across Canada dedicated to transforming Scouts Canada into a democratic association". Here is my email and their reply:

>I am from USA. I was hoping you could answer some questions about >Scouts Canada. >I'm working on the Wikipedia article, "Controversies about the Boy >Scouts of America" at > >There are some references to Scouts Canada. Are these statements true >about Scouts Canada?

I'm glad to help. I have done some work on Wikipedia myself. My username is lkmorlan

>1. Since deciding to to admit females, atheists, agnostics, gays, >lesbians, bisexuals, and transsexuals into troops in 1998, Scouts >Canada's membership has dramatically decreased, leading to fiscal >problems.[1] (Was this the reason for the decline in membership?)

Simply, no. Membership decline has been an ongoing problem for decades. In the statistics, there is nothing to distinguish 1998 from any other year. There certainly are fiscal problems now caused by membership decline. See:

The article referenced in the footnote in the article contains many errors and misconceptions and is not a reliable source of information about Scouts Canada.

There are other serious problems with the statement. Let's take them one at a time.

Females: In 1971, Rover Crews (ages 18-26) were given the option of admitting female members. In 1984, this "local option" was extended to Venturers (ages 14-17). In 1992, local option was extended to Beavers (5-7), Wolf Cubs (8-10), and Scouts (11-14). In 1998, local option was removed. From that time, all sections have been required to admit female members. This was the only change of consequence that happened in 1998.

Atheists and agnostics: Religious activities are an almost non-existent part Scouts Canada programs, in practise. Unless an adult is vocally an atheist, they will have no problems in Scouts Canada. Many people who are atheists or agnostics are members, both as youth and adults. The Scouts Canada program contains no Board of Review were youth could be asked about their Duty to God, so this doesn't come up as a issue for them. If a youth member voiced something, this would be dismissed as the youth "still seeking".

I have only heard of one case where a Scouter was dismissed for his religious beliefs. In this case, the Scouter called an open line radio program and made it known that he was an atheist and a Scouter. His District Commissioner revoked his membership and the Scouter accepted this. If it had been fought either internally or at the Human Rights Tribunal, I am confident it would have been over-turned.

Remember that only about one-third of Canadians attend church once a month or more and the number has been falling for decades. Canadian society is not very religious and Scouting has followed the broader trend. Scouts Canada's written policies have not been significantly adjusted in many years. Their is no DRP equivalent. The policies are vague.

Gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transsexuals: With the exception of their current general non-discrimination statement, there has never been any official Scouts Canada policy about any of these. It is not reasonable to point to any particular date and say that after this date, gays have been allowed to join. Their acceptance within Scouting mirrors their acceptance within society at large. More below.

>2. Scouts Canada allows homosexuals as members and in leadership >positions, however, individual units can restrict homosexuals. (How >should this sentence be worded?)

Individual units in Scouts Canada may not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. It's both illegal and inconsistent with Scouts Canada policy. I am sure that some individual groups do so anyway, at least in quiet way of making people feel unwelcome. In the case of the Mormons, I understand that Mormon-sponsored groups have all-Mormon leaders, so this takes care of the issue from their perspective.

The entire issue about sexual orientation is much less polarized here then in the US. There is more of a "live and let live" attitude generally. Even the leader of our Conservative Party, which recently won the election, has said that he is not interested in re-opening the debate on same-sex marriage, which was recently made legal in Canada.

Let me know if you have any other questions. --End of email--Jagz 03:36, 15 February 2006 (UTC)

POV-check on this article

With apologies for forgetting to do this earlier, as pointed out by Jagz, I am now posting why I believe this article should be checked for POV.

It seems to me from reading the article, that everything is being expressed from the point of view of everyone else looking at the BSA. There seems to be nothing balancing this pov against the Boy Scouts of America's reason for all these policies.

The article also seems to compare the BSA's policy with those of other organisations, such as Scouting in the UK and Scout Canada. Comparing other organisations is no basis for the issues of the BSA. In my opinion, I think it would be good for this article if the POV of the outside world was balanced against the BSA's own perceptions of these problems, so that the article may be balanced.

I stress it is only my view that the POV of the article is unbalanced, since I nominated it. You are free to discuss this as you please, as always. Thor Malmjursson 02:44, 16 February 2006 (UTC) Thor's Pet Yack

The article could contain BSA's reasons for these policies, however, for every BSA point there is a counter-point from the opposing point of view. To keep the article concise, an extensive debate on the merits of the controversial issues has been avoided.--Jagz 03:01, 16 February 2006 (UTC)
I added a section on BSA Membership Standards.--Jagz 07:18, 16 February 2006 (UTC)
I removed the POV check template. I added a section on BSA Membership Standards (the section has since been renamed) and afterwards there was no further discussion on the POV check so I assume I took care of it. The article is "politically correct" in that it doesn't discuss details of why it may or may not be good to deny BSA membership to avowed homosexuals for example. It simply says other countries do it differently, but maybe it is because those countries have stronger anti-discrimination laws for gays.--Jagz 15:40, 22 February 2006 (UTC)

Definitions section

Some are changing the definitions in a way that directly conflicts with The Language of Scouting[2] That is the BSA website.

Removed Definitions Section

I went ahead and removed the Definitions section because I couldn't see how most of the definitions were in any way related to the controversy (e.g. "Adult- A person 18 years of age and up, male or female.") (A secondary issues is-- I don't know if we're allowed to copy, verbatim, that much raw copyrighted text from a website-- I think using that much that MIGHT qualify as copyright violation. But that's completely besides the point.)

If there's controversy directly stemming from any of the definitions, by all means, let's discuss it in the article, in prose form.

The "Origins of Standards" section is a bit confusing-- I also added a sentence explaining what I think is the purpose the section-- namely, to demonstrate that principles which led to the controversies are "long-standing and well-established in the history of scouting", not some recent fad. But we really need to explain the controversy before this section can have relevance. -Alecmconroy 04:00, 22 February 2006 (UTC)

The definitions are intended to be used by readers unfamiliar with BSA terminology. Also it is for use by people contributing to the article. Some terminology is ambiguous even to those familiar with the BSA. It is a way to standardize the terminology used in the article.--Jagz 16:19, 22 February 2006 (UTC)
I've put the definitions back in with some modifications.--Jagz 21:42, 22 February 2006 (UTC)
Yeah-- I definitely believe in putting useful reference material for editors when the article is in this amount of state of flux-- e.g. Some of the gender-based lawsuits may not come up in the final article, but I listed them for the time being. So, which of the definitions are unfamiliar? In this little research I've done, i've come up with "Adult" (many might thing an 18 year old recent-eagle-scout didn't qualify) and "Leader" (many might think only adults are leaders). -Alecmconroy 10:33, 23 February 2006 (UTC)
In this article an adult is male or female, while a youth is male. The note at the bottom states that the definitions may not apply to the Venturing program; this was done to keep things simple. Otherwise we would have to put exceptions to the definitions and it would be more confusing than helpful. A member is a youth or an adult. A lot of the terms are not familiar to people with no Scouting experience.--Jagz 17:17, 23 February 2006 (UTC)

General Comments on NPOV and Needing Cleanup

I just want to generally say that my take is that this article is very non-neutral point of view. As it stands, this looks like BSA's page ON the controversies-- not Wikipedia's page on the controversies. In many cases, BSA's justifications are listed without even a direct reference to controversial action being justified. Consider-- this article mentions Baden-Powell's views on religion before even describing the controversy about religion.

This isn't to chastise the contributors who have added the excellent info about BSA's justifications-- it's just to say that we all need to do much better job explaining what each controversy is, how it first got raised, what BSA says on the issue, what critics say on the issue, and what the legal / political institutions have said on the issue, and what effects have happened as a result of the controversy.

Since I see the problem more as "This article needs a LOT of work" than just "This article is POV", I also went ahead and added it to Pages Needing Cleanup.

Ask yourself-- if anyone came to the current page with absolutely no knowledge what the controversies were, could they really make heads or tails out of this page, as it stands now?

So, this leads me to ask right out, what are all the controversies. Here's my list, which am I missing:

  • The agnostics/atheists issue
  • The homosexuals issue
  • The expulsion of adults for public advocacy
  • The Unitarian-Universalist Religious Emblem issue
  • The government charter, public support issue
  • The coed issue (?) there's actually quite a lot on this
  • The membership inflation issue (?)
  • A few cases of wrongdoing among scout leaders & officials (e.g. Dennis Rader the BTK killer and Douglas Smith Jr).(?)

I'm not sure if the last three two are actually "controversial"-enough to merit mention, but I threw them up there for the purposes of brainstorming. The agnostics/atheist issue and the homosexuals issue can probably be lumped together under a "Membership Criteria Issues" since they share a lot of the legal/political dimensions.

In general, though, this page just needs a big style overhaul. Right now the page consists of mostly snippets of BSA policy and BSA statements-- not a coherent narrative that "tells the story" of the controversies. --Alecmconroy 04:00, 22 February 2006 (UTC)

Also-- is it NPOV to say "discrimination" with regard to sexual orientation? It's not contested that BSA does that right? saying "unlawful discrimination" or "immoral" discrimination would be WAY inappropriate POV for a lot of reasons (foremost that all courts agree it's "lawful discrimination"). by , discrimination seems appropriate, but i worry it somehow sounds "too harsh". Is there a better word? I thought about "differential treatment" but that almost implies that gay employess get paid slightly less or something, not are banned outright. -Alecmconroy 11:11, 22 February 2006 (UTC)

Remember, this is an article about current or recent controversies. Just because BSA has a problem doesn't necessarily make it a controversy. Also, cases of individual wrongdoing should not be added unless it serves to illustrate a more far-reaching controversy.--Jagz 21:56, 22 February 2006 (UTC)
There are two definitions of "discrimination" (a) the act of differentiating and (b) prejudice against people of minority groups. Clearly (a) is NPOV and (b) is not. Since it's difficult in English to differentiate the two definitions I believe we would increase the NPOV of this article by avoiding this word. --RSaunders 17:05, 23 February 2006 (UTC)
Yeah-- I agree. I'm using the phrase "Exclusion of Gays and Atheists" a lot in some of the rough-draft stuff Ive been writing. It's a little unwieldy and verbose, but it's a lot more neutral than saying "Discrimination against Gays and Atheists" or even "Discrimination based on Religion and Sexual Orientation".-Alecmconroy 00:23, 24 February 2006 (UTC)

This article is getting long, and the length does not come from a deep discussion of a topic but rather the shallow discussion of a number of topics. I think we need to make this a more descriptive sort of disambiguation page. Work with the list of issues and describe them in a paragraph. Then link to individual articles that would be more wiki-ish and on point. --RSaunders 17:05, 23 February 2006 (UTC)

Yeah, I'm reluctantly inclined to agree-- the article's long now, and it's not going to be getting any shorter. I think some of the current material can be made ever-so-slightly more concise, but there's so much that needs adding that we're still gonna end up with a ton. Maybe each controvery could have a short paragraph about each of the different issues, linked to the individual controversy's page. How shall we split it up? I'd definitely think lumping the gays & atheists issues together would be fruitful. The new stuff about public land usage, equal access, and the san diego case could be its own. The Unitarian thing and The Public advocacy explusions issues could be viewed either as part of the the gay/atheist controvery (since they arose out of it) or they could be viewed as totally separate issues. I don't know whether to get into the Girls in Scouting thing or not-- BSA addresses it in detail on their own "Controveries" page[3], but I can't get a feel for whether it's actually that big of an issue or not? We could get into the membership inflation or the abuse lawsuits, but would anyone really miss them if we didn't? Thoughts?
-Alecmconroy 00:23, 24 February 2006 (UTC)
The issue of gays and atheists was in one section until fairly recently when it was separated into two sections. I'm not sure how it's going to help by putting it back into one section. It might help as far as the length of the article but there are differences between the two issues. The avowed gay issue has become in recent years more applicable to those in leadership positions. The atheist issue is more of a membership issue and is somewhat dictated by the BSA's membership in the World Organization of the Scout Movement. The gay issue is more of an American values based issue.--Jagz 17:10, 24 February 2006 (UTC)

Another controversy which is not listed (and is not in the wiki article) is the BSA's refusal to recognize a Wiccan religious award, and how the BSA changed the rules after a group of Wiccans met the original requirements. see hereBrian Westley 11:00, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

Brainstorm for New Article Names

So, let's say for a minute that we split this into two pages: "Page One" about the Gays & Atheists policy, the reasons for each of the policies, the legal challenges (and their being successfully upheld), the resulting uproar and rallying of support. "Page Two" about this new attempt to deny the scouts access to governmental support, its ongoing legal challenges, yadda yadda yadda. Page One, of course, has to have separate sub-sections explaining the Duty to God values behing the atheism policy and the Morally Straight and Clean values underlying the homosexuality policy. But the litigation is absolutely identical (sometimes down to the same court on the same day), almost all of the "banter" against the scouts addresses both atheism & homosexuality, most of the voices of support equally relates to both, .

So, what's been driving me crazy is: What do we call "Page One". I've been loooking at Wikipedia:Naming conventions and trying to brainstorm a list. Here are just some VERY ROUGH ideas:

  • Boy Scouts of America and gays and atheists
  • Boy Scouts of America, gays and atheists
  • Boy Scouts of America and atheism and homosexuality
  • Boy Scouts of America policies on gays and atheists
  • Boy Scouts of America policies on atheism and homosexuality
  • Boy Scouts of America policies regarding religion and sexual orientation
  • Boy Scouts of America and its controversial membership policies
  • Boy Scouts of America and its exclusion of gays and atheists
  • Boy Scouts of America's exclusion of gays and atheists
  • Boy Scouts of America membership and employment controversy
  • Boy Scouts of America's treatment of gays and atheists

Any preferences or other ideas? -Alecmconroy 01:55, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

I think the only controversy in the article not related to the BSA's standards on spirituality and sexuality is that of "Membership numbers reporting". Really "Membership numbers reporting" isn't much of a controversy anymore, it's a problem that BSA has acknowledged and that they're working to correct.--Jagz 20:44, 26 February 2006 (UTC)
How about "Boy Scouts of America's controversial policies"--Jagz 21:22, 26 February 2006 (UTC)
So, are you saying that we can squeeze everything onto one page? if we only have the one, then I think either our current title or the one you suggest would both be fine. -Alecmconroy 00:26, 27 February 2006 (UTC)
I think it would be preferable to keep everything in one article. I think "Membership numbers reporting" could be deleted if it improves continuity in an overhauled article. Girls seeking membership wasn't mentioned but I'm not sure if it is a big controversy right now. Girls 14 and up can join the Venturing program--Jagz 01:33, 27 February 2006 (UTC)

Scouting for All Merge

The merge proposer didn't post reasons here, so I'll star the discussion. I don't think it should be merged because the group is more than a "Controversy about the BSA". This would be like Merging Citizen's Debate Commission into Controversies about the United States Presidential Debates. I would be fine with merging an article that just talked about one controversy but not articles about notable organizations. savidan(talk) (e@) 16:11, 27 February 2006 (UTC)


References and links as checked by Linkchecker: [4] --— Gadget850 (Ed) talk - 02:54, 10 February 2008 (UTC)

On My Honor: Why the American Values of the Boy Scouts Are Worth Fighting for, by TX Gov. Rick Perry

Folks, Texas Governor Rick Perry has just come out (Feb 12, 2008) with a book relevant to this page. Consider if/how it should be added. Here's a link to

I learned about this listening to WABC radio, 11AM hour, Feb 21, 2008, interview of Gov. Rick Perry by radio talk show host John R. Gambling. --LegitimateAndEvenCompelling (talk) 03:40, 23 February 2008 (UTC)

What information in this book is relevant? --— Gadget850 (Ed) talk - 12:21, 10 March 2008 (UTC)
Amazon says it's not available yet. --evrik (talk) 16:02, 10 March 2008 (UTC)
I haven't read it. It's just a suggestion. --LegitimateAndEvenCompelling (talk) 03:43, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
I guess this ends the discussion. --Jagz (talk) 04:24, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
Well, there's no discussion really, just a suggestion where people might want to go to get further info with which to improve this article. --LegitimateAndEvenCompelling (talk) 04:27, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
This book has been available at my local Barnes & Noble here in Beaumont, TX, for about a week. The title is self-explanatory. The relevant content would be from where he rails against "liberals" and groups that have attacked the BSA. Deatonjr (talk) 17:38, 11 March 2008 (UTC)
I just read it. It's very good history of Scouting, organization and mission of BSA and a history of all of the lawsuits. He then adds why he thinks the ACLU is singling out the Boy Scouts. I've added it to the reference list. GCW50 (talk) 02:48, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

1978 Memo on Incompatibility of Homosexuality and the Scout Oath/Law

The citation used to justify this claim in the article doesn't agree. The text doesn't mention the oath/law at all. Rather, it expresses the view that leadership positions are not appropriate for homosexuals. It may seem like a meaningless distinction, but it is quite different. The relevant text is reproduced below:

A 1978 position statement to the Boy Scouts' Executive Committee, signed by Downing B. Jenks, the President of the Boy Scouts, and Harvey L. Price, the Chief Scout Executive, expresses the Boy Scouts' "official position" with regard to "homosexuality and Scouting":

"Q. May an individual who openly declares himself to be a homosexual be a volunteer Scout leader?

"A. No. The Boy Scouts of America is a private, membership organization and leadership therein is a privilege and not a right. We do not believe that homosexuality and leadership in Scouting are appropriate. We will continue to select only those who in our judgment meet our standards and qualifications for leadership." App. 453-454. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:04, 10 June 2008 (UTC)

  • Note that this is only talking about the claim that "as early as 1978...".


One of the contoversis is about atheists. There is a link to discrimination agansit atheists. Im a member of the BSA and I know that it is private and has the right to self select. So how can it be discrimnation? Plyhmrp (talk) Plyhmrp

Discrimination is a word where the meaning has become slanted. Neutrally used, the term simply means to differentiate or act on differences. Acts such as promoting an employee based on merit or failing a student based on grades are discriminatory, but both are certainly legal and discriminatory is rarely used in this context. In the current milieu, discrimination is almost always used to indicate illegal or immoral actions. Every employer has the right to discriminate by hiring employees based on their qualifications, but they cannot discriminate based on things that are protected by law such as gender or race. Private organizations such as the BSA, the Jewish War Veterans and the Daughters of the American Revolution (all federally chartered) can set standards for association. Discrimination is a proper term, but it must be used carefully and neutrally. --—— Gadget850 (Ed) talk - 13:38, 22 October 2008 (UTC)

Understandable.Plyhmrp (talk) Plyhmrp

If it is in a linked reference, then we have no control over the use of the term, if it is in the article, then we may need to look at how it is used. --—— Gadget850 (Ed) talk - 17:14, 22 October 2008 (UTC)

The recent edit appears to be based on the incorrect view that discrimination is only discrimination if it has been found to be illegal discrimination. Scouts in many other Scouting organizations think that exclusion of homosexuals is immoral discrimination even if it is quite legal to discriminate in this way. Denying membership to atheists is quite clearly discrimination even if again it is quite legal. I'll leave it to US editors however to sort out the best wording. --Bduke (Discussion) 22:37, 3 February 2009 (UTC)

The article seems to be quite clear about the discriminatory policies and practices of the BSA. The article also seems to be quite clear about the legality of the BSA discriminatory practices.

The BSA's policies have been legally challenged but have not been found to constitute illegal discrimination; as a private organization in the United States they have the right to freedom of association,[5] as determined in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale.[6]

This Wikipedia talk page is not a general discussion forum. Are any improvements to the article are being suggested here? -- Boracay Bill (talk) 00:18, 5 February 2009 (UTC)

Removed paragriph assigning individual rights to the BSA organization

I have removed the paragraph which read

The BSA's policies have been legally challenged but have not been found to constitute illegal discrimination; as a private organization in the United States they have the right to freedom of association

and which, until recently, read

The BSA's policies have been legally challenged but have not been found to constitute illegal discrimination, because as a private organization in the United States they have the Freedom of Assembly guaranteed in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

My understanding is that both those rights are individual rights and, while individuals inside and outside of the BSA organization have those rights, the BSA organization itself does not. Perhaps some judicious rewording can fix this. -- Boracay Bill (talk) 23:13, 10 November 2008 (UTC)

See the first case involving the BSA and freedom of association: Boy Scouts of America v. Dale. --—— Gadget850 (Ed) talk - 23:37, 10 November 2008 (UTC)

Thanks for the clarification. I've undid my change and added some clarifying cites and a {{see also}}. -- Boracay Bill (talk) 20:35, 11 November 2008 (UTC)

Pedophile priests

Do the Boy Scouts ever do any backup research on the possibility of pedophile priests serving with the organization ? I was reading a few horror stories about pedophile priests, some of them involving the Boy Scouts. [7] [8] ADM (talk) 21:45, 18 April 2009 (UTC)

To my knowledge, the BSA itself has never publicly released any studies. You really want Scouting sex abuse cases which notes the only real study of sexual abuse in the BSA by the Washington Times in 1991, but it will not answer your specific question. --Gadget850 (talk) 22:14, 18 April 2009 (UTC)
Those are dreadful sources to use, please provide any reliable sources to entertain this content before it goes any further. -- Banjeboi 02:25, 26 July 2009 (UTC)
Which sources? Which content? --Erp (talk) 03:47, 27 July 2009 (UTC)
Until any reliable sources are presented it doesn't matter. -- Banjeboi 02:23, 28 July 2009 (UTC)

National Jamboree

The BSA is planning to move their national Jamborees from Fort A.P. Hill (a military center) to their own property, starting in 2013. Should this be mentioned in the section about government support of Jamborees? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Brian Westley (talkcontribs) 04:22, 16 June 2009 (UTC)

Scouts Canada

I love it! The inferrence correlating Scouts Canada "Inclusive" Membership Policy and Membership Size as a comparison to BSA's was originally added to this article by critics of BSA about four years ago when BSA membership had a slight dip. But now that Scouts Canada membership has fallen off the cliff (by it's own admission in it's annual report) while BSA's membership has stayed relatively stable, reference to Scouts Canada membership size in this article is no longer "relevant". We wouldn't want the the facts to get in the way of bias, would we? GCW50 (talk) 15:45, 26 November 2008 (UTC)

Jergen reverted the content added by Silesia just before I got to it. Scouts Canada has had a drop in membership, but there is nothing that conclusively documents the reasons. Scouts Canada went through a major restructuring around the same time with a lot of opposition; I would be surprised if this was not involved, but I have no references. Unless there are reliable sources, that content is original research. --—— Gadget850 (Ed) talk - 20:13, 26 November 2008 (UTC)
Someone added it with a reference, but the reference didn't mention any correlation with the openly homosexual leader policy therefore I removed that bit Nil Einne (talk) 18:45, 16 June 2009 (UTC)
The attempt to correlate membership size to membership policies has no real basis in any study. If you look at traditional membership, there is an immediate drop in 1998 when Exploring move to LfL. There is another small drop around 2006 after membership verification policies were enacted. BSA traditional had a small drop in the 2008 membership, but LfL participants are down by almost 25%. I can make guesses as to why, bu I have not seen anything published. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 19:46, 16 June 2009 (UTC)
I have removed the entire section discussing other countries again. As I hinted above and mentioned directly to the person who added it, this is WP:OR as the sources don't discuss the reason for the drop in the other countries nor do they compare it to the US drop. (One of the sources did mention the LGBT policy but also mentioned other changes in relation to the membership increase.) I've left the bit about the US membership size for now since it's obviously relevant to this article (being about the BSA not the scouts of Canada, United Kingdom or any other country) and the sources do discuss it in the context of the LGBT membership controversy. The sources aren't great so I have no great interest in keeping it stay but it doesn't clearly not belong unlike the other stuff. The bit on inflated membership is obviously a controversy suitable for mention in this article, even if not related to the main controversies. Nil Einne (talk) 13:46, 18 September 2009 (UTC)

Girls are prohibited

In the intro, a section reads that girls are prohibited from joining. This is undoubtedly true, but I don't think this belongs in the Controversies section. After all, there is a Girl Scouts organization. Females are also permitted to be on the troop committee, and serve several leadership positions (for instance, my Committee Chairman is a female, as is the treasurer, and a lot of merit badge counselors and other, lesser positions. Should that part be removed? It does seem rather ridiculous; you wouldn't find boys joining the Girl Scouts. Abyssalstudios (talk) 18:23, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

ADDITION: "According to the BSA, "The Cub Scout and Boy Scout programs were designed to meet the emotional, psychological, physical, and other needs of boys between the ages of 8 and 14."[27] While the BSA does not admit girls to these programs, the Venturing program is open to young men and women ages 14 through 21." I did not see that last time, but it seems rather redundant. Abyssalstudios (talk) 18:26, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

See Women could not be a Webelos den leader, Scoutmaster or Coach until 1988. The BSA won a lawsuit in 1987, but changed their policy policy in 1988. The BSA has been sued at least four times for denying amission to girls in Cub Scouting or Boy Scouting. Within the Scouting community, this is part of the 3Gs: God, gays and girls. --—— Gadget850 (Ed) talk - 20:11, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
Thank you, that explains it. Abyssalstudios (talk) 16:21, 4 December 2008 (UTC)
Sound like this needs some expansion. --—— Gadget850 (Ed) talk - 16:57, 4 December 2008 (UTC)

I spent several years in scouting up to becoming an eagle scout. I distinctly remember female scouts in uniform as members of other local troops circa 1998-2004. I met several at camps and events. I have heard several times that girls were not excluded from scouting and always believed this to be true. Nonetheless I can find no reference in my handbook or on the internet. Can anyone else confirm/deny definitively? (I am from troop 9, prairielands council in IL) Pinochet (3) (talk) 17:22, 24 June 2009 (UTC)

Girls may not be youth members in Cub Scouting or Boy Scouting, but can be members in Venturing. Women may serve as leaders in all of the divisions. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 17:46, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
It is also possible he saw Girl Scouts; they are members of a separate organization but are still scouts. It is also not unknown for them to work together (e.g., recruited to help with an eagle or gold award project). --Erp (talk) 17:59, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
There are even joint outdoor events with Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts. Personally I think it rather shizo of both GSUSA and BSA to allow adults of the opposite sex to join but not youths. RlevseTalk 20:57, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
Reading various history texts, I get hints that the BSA made overtures to the GSUSA for a merge in the 1970s but was rebuffed. Regardless, the BSA policies on girls as members are clear. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 21:51, 24 June 2009 (UTC)
Well in the earliest days there were girls in the Boy Scouts (probably unofficially but I'm not sure much was official then). Hunting down some history of Girl Scouts in various states I found at least one reference mentioned an all-girl patrol in a Boy Scout troop (this would have been circa 1910). Not to mention the origin of Girl Guides (the girls who showed up at a Boy Scout event and announced to Baden-Powell they were Girl Scouts). --Erp (talk) 00:06, 25 June 2009 (UTC)

The issue of BSA allowing only boys to be members is significant on a global level. In almost every other country in the world Scouting has now moved to a situation where males and females have equal access to every position, at all ages, within a single organisation. That Scouting in the USA is different is worth discussing. HiLo48 (talk) 05:44, 10 October 2009 (UTC)

Position on illegal aliens

This section is based on one source, that covers only the Chicago Area Council. There are no sources showing that this is a National position or that other councils are doing this. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 21:40, 25 July 2009 (UTC)

This section should surely go then. The preceding paragraph discusses general policy but has no reference. Yohan euan o4 (talk) 14:52, 26 September 2009 (UTC)

Other Youth Organizations

Perhaps regarding other youth organizations, mention should be made of the Masonic youth organizations (DeMolay, Job's Daughters, and the International Order of Rainbow for Girls). Although not as numerous, they are very widespread in the United States. Like the Boy Scouts, they require a belief in a Supreme Being, but do not have any position on homosexuality in their membership requirements. This is most likely due to the Freemasons themselves, who have no mention of homosexuality in their landmarks.

Their membership, though, it elected by the current members, and it is expected that the boys and girls be "of good character". It also is expected that by joining, members are to accept, at least externally, the tenets of the orders, which tend to emphasize service, citizenship, leadership, and character development.

Masonic methods of inculcation of values rely on ritual. This method of external development, as opposed to personal development, could make the gay question in these organizations less of a controversy.

I have gone through each of these organizations' youth protection program. They each properly emphasized that the danger of sexual abuse comes from unexpected places, and that it is important to "keep the appearances" correct, and not take shortcuts or rely on trust.

I suspect that the Boy Scouts have explicitly banned homosexuals in consequence of the organization's infiltration by a number of pedophiles. Perhaps they are confusing the two. I think the Masonic organizations haven't been as confused.PhilD86 (talk) 20:41, 25 September 2009 (UTC)

Actually the BSA has said this is not the reason (note they also ban lesbians and some of the male adults caught have been abusing girls in Venturers, they also do not ban homosexuals in Learning for Life), possibly because the evidence for this reason wouldn't stand up in court. The Freemasons and their youth organizations are different because (a) they have never been involved with government to the same degree (no federal charter, no government owned units, no government subsidies) and (b) they are far more explicitly religious in all their rituals. The only youth organizations that the Boy Scouts could truly be compared with would be groups like Campfire, Girl Scouts, 4-H. --Erp (talk) 05:17, 26 September 2009 (UTC)

hold up

"Position on illegal aliens" wtf? IAmTheCoinMan (talk) 04:53, 26 September 2009 (UTC)

illegal alien GeeJo (t)(c) • 08:22, 26 September 2009 (UTC)

Homophobia category

This article warrants inclusion into the Homophobia category, the reasoning behind which is clearly self evident and adequately sourced. Since the article has achieved Featured Article status (with the category included) then removing the category will be considered vandalism. I'm sure that there are some editors who do not agree with the categorisation (and even the term "homophobia" itself), and you are entitled to your opinion, but please familiarise yourselves with the accepted definition of homophobia and its uses on Wikipedia before contemplating a pointless edit war. Thank you. (talk) 05:00, 26 September 2009 (UTC)

Note the Category:Homophobia explicitly states that inclusion should not imply that the organization or person is actually homophobic just that the issue is significant in the article. --Erp (talk) 05:13, 26 September 2009 (UTC)

Featured article? This?

I strongly suggest removing the featured status until the neutrality issues have been addressed. Is this article a joke? It's full of weasel words: some argue that, has been criticized by many, has been questioned by some... all the way, nearly in every sentence of the article. Could you possibly imagine what will happen to the neutrality and factual accuracy in Wikipedia, if we continued editing like this? Someone who hates or disagrees with something, goes on searching the web for any ultra-liberal on anarchist blog even with less than a few dozen readers which attacks it. Now it's possible to link it as a source, and write: it is controversial, as it has been criticized by XY. Don't misunderstand me: if a really well known source criticized it, we can include it. But not in this propaganda style present in this article. Now the pattern is this: "XY criticized them that ...... . They answered that ...... This, however, is wrong and evil and unjust". Could we do it a bit more neutral and less propagandistic please?

I would like to make clear that I'm not a Scout and I never was. However, I think it is unacceptable to demonize an organization like this because of its membership criteria:

  • 1. It is a religious or semi-religious organization. So I think it is appropriate for them to make restriction based on some religious criteria. How silly would it be, to put the following to the "Jews" article: "They are controversial because they only accept Jews to become rabbis. They also don't accept atheists. This is clearly discriminative". Would this make any sense?
  • 2. They are an organization based on old cultural values. Of course they will restrict their membership to those people who accept those values. If you question those values, you're free to do it. But then look for an organization which suits your political and moral affiliation. There are a LOT of organizations centered on drug liberalization, gay rights, etc, etc, then go and join them, and don't throw mud at those who are happy to follow their old, more traditional values. They are the only bigger organization to follow this lifestyle, why hate and discredit them? And if you really really hate them so much, reconsider your ability to write in a neutral and encyclopedic manner about them. -- (talk) 10:33, 26 September 2009 (UTC)

Wikipedia does not decide what is appropriate criticism and what isn't. GregorB (talk) 12:06, 28 September 2009 (UTC)


This article is an essay, pure and simple. The fact that I and a lot of other people think this is a good topic for discussion does not change the fact that it is an essay. This kind of thing is EXACTLY why I think wikipedia is ultimately a farce. There is certainly a place in the world for this kind of analysis, and maybe wikipedia actually IS the place, but in my opinion that makes wikipedia, by definition, not an encyclopedia. I really hope the "powers that be" at wikipedia come to terms with this sooner or later and stop pretending that any essay or discussion topic, as long as it has a bunch of footnotes attached, can automatically be called an "encyclopedia article." 18:03, 26 September 2009 (UTC)

Just try to think of this page as a section of a larger article (Boy Scouts) that was split off to make it more readable and to speed up load time for those of us who might not have the fastest internet connections. I therefor see no problem with this type of article whatsoever. If you think wikipedia is a "farce", you could also try to help improve its contents. Thanks. --Cdogsimmons (talk) 18:43, 26 September 2009 (UTC)

You missed their point. They basically said that, from start to finish, this "article" is just an attack against BSA disguised as as an article.

It's called assuming good faith. If he or she thought the article had a problem with point of view (as apparently you do), he or she could point out the specific language and that issue could be addressed by trying to find consensus. You say that the article is an attack on the Boy Scouts from start to finish. Maybe some people argue that the Boy Scouts should be attacked for their discriminatory policies. I think you will find similar attacks on other private organizations that discriminate based on religion. (See the Ku Klux Klan). Other people, including the founder of the Boy Scouts, think that you can't be a good citizen if you don't believe in God, and plenty of people seem to agree with him. I see no problem whatsoever with wikipedia documenting those conflicting viewpoints as long as the article is properly sourced. --Cdogsimmons (talk) 19:42, 27 September 2009 (UTC)

unchanged oath?

The article claims that the oath has remained unchanged since 1911, and has the following text:

On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.

My memory, from when I was a Scout in the Seventies, has only the first three lines. I can't seem to find my BSA manual to check this. The citation for "unchanged" seems to be a legal case, which is a bit suspicious. Can anyone check on this? --Trovatore (talk) 21:31, 26 September 2009 (UTC)

It is the same in all the handbooks from 1911 through 2009. Your manual was probably the plain green one from 1972. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 21:41, 26 September 2009 (UTC)
I was a Scout in the 70's also (both before and after the famous (infamous?) 1972 handbook came out), and am an adult leader today, and I can tell you that the Oath has never changed. Neutron (talk) 11:49, 27 September 2009 (UTC)
Nor have the Scout Law, Scout Motto, or Scout Slogan. I will admit that the Outdoor Code is new, at least from when I started in Scouting, although it was starting to be discussed later in my scout years (late 1970s, early-mid 1980s). Even now, when I'm doing boards of review, I need to concentrate on it to remember the full words, as opposed to the Oath and Law being automatic. I did not need to recite the Outdoor Code at my Eagle board, for example. Bill Ward (talk) 20:59, 28 September 2009 (UTC)


I reverted the change made by GCW50 [9] here [10]. The laws etc involved are clearly about stopping organizations from practicing what is considered discriminatory by the drafters of said laws etc. Whether or not other people agree and whether or not they are legally allowed to do so is somewhat irrelevant. I'm pretty sure most of these are not blanket laws etc that stop organisations restricting membership. E.g. it's likely many of them having nothing on age discrimination. Thinking of the issue above, I doubt many stop an organisation from restricting membership to citizens. And I'm pretty sure MENSA is allowed restrict by "IQ". And a coal miners unions (for example) is allowed to restrict itself to coal miners. While this is mostly irrelevant, I should add that GCW50 appears to be mistaken anyway. From what I can tell the US Supreme Court has not yet really ruled on these laws. They've ruled the scouting membership policies aren't unconstitutional and that it's unconstitutional compel the scouts to accept a LGBT member however they haven't ruled that you can't punish or restrict access to organisations who don't accept such members or otherwise practice forms or discrimination forbidden by whatever state/country/whatever. The cases mention in Boy Scouts of America membership controversies#Recent litigation don't provide much help either if anything, they suggest it may be okay. There are ongoing cases which may provide additional clarity and additional federal laws as mentioned in the article, so in some cases it may come down to a federal vs state issue I guess Nil Einne (talk) 14:21, 18 September 2009 (UTC)

The word "Discrimination" has so many meanings that it is virtually useless. Anytime there is any condition placed on anything it is technically "discrimination". But a second meaning has more negative connotations, which is engaging in legally prohibited discrimination. And so the word game is that whenever a condition is (legally) placed that you don't like, you use the first definition to say that it is such, and falsely imply the second definition to try to make it sound negative.

North8000 (talk) 16:52, 8 November 2009 (UTC)

Yes, it's not a very helpful word. There are your two extreme meanings, but there is also a whole spectrum of meanings in between, such as immoral, unethical, very old-fashioned, or just plain stupid discrimination. With Scouting being a global organisation, providing other very effective models with which to compare, many outside Scouting in the USA see the discrimination it practices, while mostly being legal according to US law, to be in one of the categories I've just listed. BSA is probably one of the most conservative incarnations of Scouting in the world. I do, and I feel it's worth discussing. HiLo48 (talk) 20:25, 8 November 2009 (UTC)

The problem is when we make the comparison. Who has published material comparing the BSA to other Scouting organizations? What is mainstream Scouting? ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 22:05, 8 November 2009 (UTC)

The defacto situation with BSA USA is that it is full of atheists, (I know many that are also Eagle Scouts and in all types of adult leadership positions) and the few person (of the millions in BSA) that have run afoul of the BSA have been just atheists who were out to make an atheist point. It's similar for homosexuals, except with smaller numbers because with an average age of about 10 or 11 years old for youth members, most scouts are too young to be any kind of "sexuals". The reality is that BSA only bars AVOWED homosexuals from senior leadership positions. In short, it lets all youth in except those who seek to make BSA a battleground or platform for their views in favor of societal normalization of homosexuality and atheism. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:24, 10 November 2009 (UTC)

Another way of saying what has just been posted above is that homosexuals and atheists can be members of BSA so long as they lie about it or hide the truth. HiLo48 (talk) 20:42, 10 November 2009 (UTC)

I think that what I already said most accurately characterizes the situation. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:17, 10 November 2009 (UTC)

The problem is that many see a conflict between the first Scout Law and asking people to not speak of their atheism or homosexuality. To a strongly principled person, to pretend to be something they're not is an example of not behaving honourably. I'm wondering about how to reflect the point you're making (which is largely valid) and the personal conflict involved for some people in following that approach. HiLo48 (talk) 01:24, 11 November 2009 (UTC)

First, my comments are to try to convey how it actually is in BSA rather than to score points. That is that a YOUTH does does not have to hide homosexuality or atheism to remain a Scout. To have a senior leadership role (e.g. adult or near adult)a low key (but not hidden) atheist has about a 0% chance of losing that role, and a low key (but not hidden) homosexual has about a 1% chance of losing that role. But a homosexual or atheist adult who shouts such from the rooftops (i.e seeks to make BSA a battleground or platform for their views in favor of societal normalization of homosexuality and atheism.) has about a 99% chance of losing that role. Of the (I'd guess) 20,000,000 people who have gone through BSA, I think that this has happened to 2 people(both adults) for homosexuality and 1 person (and that was indirectly......was actually denied admission because the adult refused to sign the application) for atheism. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:50, 11 November 2009 (UTC)

Were there any suggestions to improve the article? ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 22:31, 10 November 2009 (UTC)
This is not a forum. The discussion needs to move towards how to improve the article. You can continue this over at or another forum. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 15:54, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
Gadget850 - I agree that this isn't the place to present opinions alone, but from polite discussions such have occured here, encyclopaedic material can arise. These can be in the form of descriptions of the various views held and the reasons those holding each view use to justify their positions. HiLo48 (talk) 21:35, 11 November 2009 (UTC)
I would agree, if there were any references presented, or any specific changes discussed. The last half of this discussion has been speculation. I can agree with some of it, but there is nothing that will help the article. ---— Gadget850 (Ed) talk 22:21, 11 November 2009 (UTC)

Answering your suggestion question, I don't think that this article has much chance of becoming informative vs. a misleading salvo fired from one side of a culture war. However, if an attempt were to be made, I would suggest the following:

1. Remove all references that are just to self-statements by anti-scout groups and anti-scout web sites 2. Where there are challenged or controversial statements: 2A Remove any of those that do not cite references 2B Where references are cited, check whether or not the cited references supports the statment. Where they do not, remove the statement. This would cause a large amount of changes in this article.

3. In the discussion section, challenge folks from both sides in this editorial "article" develop a list of youth and adults who were dropped, denied admission, or denied leadership positions in the two most salient main "culture war" areas (homosexuality and atheism). The result should be summarized and taken as the most accurate "picture" of the BSA situation in these areas. And post this summary as the lead paragraph in those sections. Alternatively, find an objective factual article which has done this already, and post a summary of it's findings in the lead paragraph, with references to that article. (sort of a forest and the trees situation) (BTW I am both an unwilling atheist and a long time Scouter though both it's 50th and 100th anniversary and every year in between)

4. Remove the "homophobia" classification. Nearly all common use of that word is contrary to it's technical definition, and is merely a battle tactic used by persons on one side of the societial-normalization-of-homosexuality culture war to mis-characterize those merely holding the opposite viewpoint of having a "phobia" or of exhibiting "hatred" of the individuals involved. This article commits that same offense by (with no basis) claiming that category.

Get the scout-hating folks that wrote this culture war salvo to agree to the the above before proceeding so that it doesn't get mired down in editing wars.

The areas covered by this piece are an area where there is mis-information and lack of information. An objective article (unlike this one in it's current state) would be very useful, although I do not hold out too much hope for that happening. (talk) 14:35, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

That response highlights the difficulties of writing an article such as this. It describes those with different opinions to the writer as being anti-Scout and Scout-hating. I know that's not an accurate description of many of those holding such positions. Many are members of Scouting themselves. To say that those you disagree with are wrong simply proves that there are controversies, which is the basic point of the article. And it certainly highlights the difficulty of finding citations acceptable to all for topics like this. HiLo48 (talk) 17:52, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

You are right. I apologize for the overgeneralization. That said, while there there may be different opinions regarding BSA's practices, it could be considered a matter of fact (rather than opinion) as to what those practices actually are. My suggestion for article improvement was to have it give an accurate view of the latter, and that such would be a change from the current article. (talk) 19:37, 12 November 2009 (UTC)

I have to agree. Facts are essential regarding those situations where BSA has directly and formally impacted on someone in one of the categories in question. HiLo48 (talk) 20:09, 12 November 2009 (UTC)