Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Boy Scouts End Ban on Gay Adult Leaders and Employees, But Allow Church-Sponsored Troops To Refuse Gay Leaders

In a press release yesterday, the Boy Scouts of America announced:
On Monday, July 27, the National Executive Board ratified a resolution that removes the national restriction on openly gay adult leaders and employees. Of those present and voting, 79 percent voted in favor of the resolution. The resolution was recommended for ratification by the Executive Committee earlier this month. The resolution is effective immediately.
Chartered organizations will continue to select their adult leaders and religious chartered organizations may continue to use religious beliefs as criteria for selecting adult leaders, including matters of sexuality. This change allows Scouting’s members and parents to select local units, chartered to organizations with similar beliefs, that best meet the needs of their families. This change also respects the right of religious chartered organizations to choose adult volunteer leaders whose beliefs are consistent with their own.
Religion News Service yesterday reported on the 14-page Legal Memo (full text) that the Scouts received from their outside counsel titled Effect of Changes in Adult Leader Standard on Religious Chartered Organizations. The memo reads in part:
The change in the BSA policy would still allow units chartered by religious organizations that as a matter of religious belief consider homosexual conduct inconsistent with their religion to limit adult leadership in accordance with that belief. Units not chartered by religious organizations could not exclude homosexuals who otherwise meet the BSA’s high adult leader standards and the chartered organization’s standards.
All other leader requirements, including “duty to God,” would remain in effect for all chartered organizations....
We understand that some religious organizations are concerned that if they exclude homosexuals from leadership in Scouting units that they charter after the BSA changes its policy they will be vulnerable to lawsuits from the potential leaders they exclude. Those concerns should be allayed by the legal defenses that religious organizations have under place of public accommodation statutes and the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States.
 The Boy Scouts removed restrictions on gays becoming scout members in 2013. (See prior posting.)