National Boy Scouts of America (BSA) leadership have communicated to local and regional that some of the biggest religious organizations with the most Boy Scout charters have come out in support of policy change.
In a memo sent by the Old Hickory Council in North Carolina that was obtained by qnotes, national BSA leadership held a conference call with local and regional scout leaders to outline the potential policy change, the reasons for reconsidering the policy, and what a policy change might mean for local troops.
While media has continued to name the religious sponsors of scouts as the primary opposition to changing the policy, on the call, BSA leadership admitted that some of the largest sponsors of scout troops are advocating for the policy. A number of religious organizations who are the top chartered partners with the BSA nationally have come out in support of this potential change because it allows their local churches more control over their leadership and membership standards.
GLAAD has been calling on the media to be fair and balanced when reporting on the relationship between religious sponsors and the BSA ban on gay scouts. Instead of citing religious opposition to the policy change, the media needs to listen to the significant number of denominations and congregations that have called for dropping the ban. When citing religious opposition to dropping the ban, media need to keep in mind the following facts:
- The United Church of Christ, as an entire denomination, has been calling on its members to contact the BSA to support dropping the ban. Many congregations hung a banner outside on Scout Sunday, which read, "We Support ALL Boy Scouts." The denomination also created People of Faith for Gay Scouts and Scout Leaders on Facebook.
- Two organizations affiliated with the United Methodist Church, the United Methodist Men and the United Methodist Board of Church and Society have called for policy change. This is especially significant, as the United Methodist Church continues to hold anti-gay policies for its own leadership.
- Two Presbyterian pastors, Rev. Dr. Chris Iosso and Rev. Patrick Heery, who both spent years participating in the Boy Scouts and are both Eagle Scouts, have formed a petition on Groundswell asking the Boy Scouts of America to end their ban on gay, bisexual, and transgender scouts and leaders, stating that "lifting the ban will provide an opportunity for Scouts all over this great nation to discuss and wrestle with questions [of inclusion]—to do so bravely and openly as leaders for today."
- Rev. Glenn Blackmon, a Lutheran pastor in Olympia, Washington, wrote an essay for the Huffington Post that described why his congregation both sponsors a Boy Scout troop, as well as has a published welcome for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities. The congregation uses their welcome statement to advocate for dropping the ban on gay scouts.
- The Mormon Church has been relatively silent on the proposed policy change, according to the New York Times. However, Mormons have been increasingly LGBT-supportive in recent years, including marching in Pride Parades around the country last summer.
- Mormons, United Methodists, Catholics, Presbyterians, and Lutherans are the five faith organizations with the highest number of chartered units.
Given the widespread religious support for dropping the ban on gay scouts and leaders, why do the media continue to focus on anti-gay groups, like the Family Research Council, that co-opts events like Scout Sunday to push an anti-gay agenda? It is becoming more and more clear that anti-gay activists like those in the the Family Research Council do not speak for Christians or people of faith in general, but only speaks to their narrow, anti-gay agenda.
GLAAD asks the media to include religious voices that support dropping the ban on gay scouts and leaders. Those who claim to speak for all people of faith rarely do so, and their words must be put into proper context. Instead, tell the stories of clergy who support rescinding the ban, congregations that organize to change the policy, and the admission of BSA leadership that there is significant religious support for dropping the ban on gay scouts and leaders.
Join the millions of people, denominations, organizations, congregations, leaders in supporting the Boy Scout policy change. Visit www.glaad.org/tellbsa to make your voice heard.