Boy Scout Troop 634
Boy Scouts of America: Traditional Values and Standards
(Provided to "60 Minutes")
The Boy Scouts of America is dedicated to preparing young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.
Scouting's record of inclusion is impressive by any standard. However, we do ask all of our members to do their best to live the Scout Oath and Law. Today, young people and adults from every ethnic, religious, and economic background in suburbs, on farms, and in cities know and respect each other as they participate in our program.
Boy Scouting makes no effort to discover the sexual orientation of any person. Scouting's message is, however, compromised when prospective leaders of youth present themselves as role models inconsistent with BSA standards.
We believe an avowed homosexual is not a role model for the traditional moral values espoused in the Scout Oath and Law and homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the values we wish to instill.
One of the basic methods the Boy Scouts of America uses in accomplishing its mission is providing all Scouts, as they mature in the program, with leadership opportunities. They have the responsibility to act as role models for younger Scouts. In the event a boy were to express opposition to any of the values in the Scout Oath or Law, the Boy Scouts of America would not act precipitously. We would encourage the boy to seek counsel from his parents or religious leaders to make sure that his expression is the product of a mature decision. Sexual responsibility by youth members is well defined in our literature.
Inappropriate sexual behavior is inconsistent with the Scout Oath and Law.
We respect other people's rights to hold differing opinions and ask that they respect ours.
Boy Scouts of America: Scouting's Membership Standards
Ever since the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) was founded on February 8, 1910, the adult volunteer members of the BSA have been bringing Scouting's character-building program to American boys. One of the largest youth-serving organization in America, the BSA has more than 110 million alumni.
It is the mission of the Boy Scouts of America to prepare young people to make ethical choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.
Additionally, those values expressed in the Scout Oath may also be found in the Tiger Cub Promise, the Cub Scout Promise, and the Venturing Oath.
Parents are free to choose what they believe is the best environment in which to raise their children, both inside and outside the home. Parents rely on the BSA to provide a logical and clear system of moral values that promote good character, personal conviction, a devotion to principle, a sense of ethics, and integrity. Scouting has always reflected the expectations of the American family.
That so many American parents have chosen to involve their sons in Scouting is a powerful testament to Scouting's effectiveness in building character in American youth.
The BSA brings the Scouting program to youth through local community churches and other organizations that share the same values as Scouting. Many churches, for example, adopt Scouting as their youth program for boys.
Over the past few years, critics have singled out the Boy Scouts of America, accusing the Scouting movement of discriminating against those who do not subscribe to the values and ideals of the BSA. These critics of the Scouting program have centered their discriminatory accusations around what has become known as the constitutional issues: BSA's decision to serve only boys in the below 14 age group, requiring acknowledgement of a duty to God, and declining to admit avowed homosexuals as leaders and members. The critics demand that the BSA reduce its standards in the name of diversity and tolerance so that Scouting is accessible to those who do not share Scouting's values.
Those who oppose the BSA's membership standards have tried to claim that the BSA is being intolerant and discriminatory. Quite the opposite is true. It is the BSA's critics who are intolerant of the BSA's values and seek to reduce diversity by having the BSA's standards eliminated. Fortunately, the Constitution protects the BSA's right to pursue its mission.
The members of the Boy Scouts of America enjoy a First Amendment right to freedom of association and to join together to pursue shared values, ideals, and goals. To advocate a set of standards with shared values, ideals, and goals is an affirmative act and is not discriminatory.
In fact, to be permitted to believe that a set of standards is better, to believe a course of conduct framed by such a set of standards yields positive societal benefits, and to affirmatively advocate such a course of conduct is at the very essence of diversity.
Pressuring the BSA to play down its set of standards to prevent offense to othersóto reduce the BSA's membership requirements to a lowest common denominator of beliefs that everyone in society can agree onówould, in itself, be a form a discrimination.
An Open Letter to America's Families
We are writing to you to share some viewpoints about recent media coverage concerning the Boy Scouts of America.
This past June, the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed the Boy Scouts of America's standing as a private organization with the right to establish its own membership and leadership standards. This historic decision has strengthened our resolve to remain a beacon of values and ideals.
Since our inception in 1910, the Boy Scouts of America has always taught youth the traditional values of the Scout Oath and Law. These values are consistent with the ideals embraced by most American families and are grounded in the tenets and teaching of the majority of the world's religions. We believe an avowed homosexual is not a role model for the values espoused in the Scout Oath and Law.
It is ironic, in our pluralistic society, that some who champion individualism, tolerance, and diversity do not practice these principles themselves. We cannot expect that every person will agree with every policy or principle of every group or organization in our country. That is why our forefathers came to this land: to establish a nation where citizens had the right to have differing opinions. From the beginning, Scouts are taught respectórespect for different ideas, customs, and culturesóand to recognize the right of individuals to subscribe to other beliefs. However, respect doesn't include forced inclusion of values, ethics, or morals that are contrary to your own. We would hope that our critics would allow children to remain children and not insert them into the politics of the day.
In an age when morality is often viewed as irrelevant, we reaffirm Scouting's resolve to remain a beacon of values and ideals. Scouting aims to immerse America's youth in character-building experiences without subjecting them to the politics of the day. No youth organization or club should ever be used as a vehicle for promoting a political or social agenda. Childhood is too important.
Some have chosen to challenge the BSA's values, asking whether they are what is best for America's youth. The resounding answer to that question is YES!
Boy Scouts of America: In Support of Diversity
More than 91 years ago, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) was founded on the premise of teaching boys moral and ethical values through an outdoor program that challenges them and teaches them respect for nature, one another, and themselves. Scouting has always represented the best in community, leadership, and service.
The Boy Scouts of America has selected its leaders using the highest standards because strong leaders and positive role models are so important to the healthy development of youth. Today, the organization still stands firm that its leaders exemplify the values outlined in the Scout Oath and Law.
On June 28, 2000, the United States Supreme Court reaffirmed the Boy Scouts of America's standing as a private organization with the right to set its own membership and leadership standards.
The BSA respects the rights of people and groups who hold values that differ from those encompassed in the Scout Oath and Law. The BSA does not seek to impose its values on anyone. We welcome all who share our values.
Scouts come from all walks of life and are exposed to diversity in Scouting that they may not otherwise experience. The Boy Scouts of America aims to allow youth to live and learn as children and enjoy Scouting without immersing them in the politics of the day.
We hope that our supporters will continue to value the Boy Scouts of America's respect for diversity and the positive impact Scouting has on young people's lives. We realize that not every individual nor organization prescribes to the same beliefs that the BSA does, but we hope that all Americans can be as respectful of our beliefs as we are of theirs and support the overall good Scouting does in American communities.
Boy Scouts of America: Values Imperatives