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by chri s tucker

MEMBERSHIP Our ‘Family Discussion’

by bryan wendell

When the Boy Scouts of America reaffirmed its long- held membership policy last  coverage and national atten- tion to the issue, some leaders thought this signaled an end to the conversation. Not so, as you no doubt

know. As BSA President Wayne Perry recently said, many unit- level volunteers weren’t aware of the policy barring openly gay Scouters and Scouts before the reaffirmation. “What we  that it started a very intense conversation,” he said. In that eight-month conver-

sation, Perry emphasized that he didn’t speak with outside special-interest groups with no affiliation to Scouting. Instead, he said, “I heard only from Scouters, people with different views than my personal views. “It was hard, because people told me their Scouting commitment, and it touched you; it touched your soul. These are good people. They are people of faith that have a different view than I do.” That’s why Perry, Chief

Scout Executive Wayne Brock, and National Commissioner Tico Perez—the National Key  call a “family discussion” that will continue through May. Who’s invited? The

 organizations; council and district volunteers and profes- sionals; volunteer committee members; and Scouters and


Scouts. Local councils spent the past months contact- ing volunteers and gathering feedback. The result of this “family discussion” is expected to be a resolution presented in May at the National Annual Meeting  voting members of the national council, a group consisting of volunteers from every local BSA council who have already been named as voting del- egates. Much like the Electoral College, the number of del- egates is based on a council’s membership; larger councils get more voting delegates. Nothing has been decided.

The resolution, which will be distributed to voting members  can be viewed on our blog,

Why now? This dialogue didn’t come out of the blue. The reaffirma- tion prompted the National Executive Board to launch discussions about the issue, including a conversation about potentially amending the policy to allow chartered organizations to accept Scouts and Scouters consistent with their organiza- tion’s principles or beliefs. And throughout this dia- logue, National Commissioner Perez said he’s heard from passionate Scouters on both sides of the issue. Out of that passion, emerged something positive. “At the end of the day,

SCOUTING ¿ 

we’ve learned one thing: We are the Boy Scouts of America. America cares about who we are. America cares what our brand is. America cares about what we do, and that’s the silver lining in all this,” he said. “That’s pretty special—[I received] 

A big tent Scouting’s a big organization.   You’ll find packs, troops, teams,  states and even some in Scout units overseas. As is true of our country as a whole, Scouts, Scouters, and Scout parents have diverse beliefs about a number of issues—religion included. “We’re a big tent,” Perez

said. “We accept and welcome all faiths. There are a lot of faiths in this movement.” And Scouts are taught to

respect others, regardless of any perceived differences. That’s why Perez, Perry, and 

stressed that they aren’t pushing Scouters to take one side or the other. They’re merely presenting feedback from coun- cils and volunteers and helping to empower stakeholders to make an informed decision and do what’s best for the BSA. - lar purpose in mind: to grow Scouting,” Perez explained. “To take Scouting to as many boys and girls as we can in America. To make certain that we, who are America’s last, greatest hope, continue to thrive over 

What now?

When the BSA announced on Feb. 6 that it would begin a three-month review of the membership policy, it also vowed to leave no stone unturned. That means commit- tees are reviewing the concerns of youth, chartered organiza- tions, and parents, in addition to discussing financial, fund- raising, and legal concerns. (Continued on Page 8)


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