Troop 2 and Pack 97, Santa Monica, California
To the National Committee of the Boy Scouts of America,
As parents of sons in a Boy Scout troop and Cub Scout pack, we are writing to request that the Western Los Angeles County Council convey to the National Committee of the Boy Scouts of America our recommendation that the policy be revisited which considers openly gay men and women unsuitable for service as adult scout leaders. We believe this policy contradicts the moral principles that provide the foundation of American democracy and are articulated in the Scout Law. Instead, we would suggest a national policy that permits local scout councils and their sponsoring organizations to select adult leaders whose behavior reflects the highest moral values of our communities.
In the United States, people are not condemned for who they are. We judge individuals for praise or blame, based on their actions. This principle underlies legislation that makes discrimination on the basis of race illegal, even in the context of privately owned businesses. Gay men and women are free to serve as public officials in local municipalities and Congress, and are not barred from service on the Supreme Court or as President. They serve as schoolteachers and religious leaders, working closely and responsibly with our children. To preclude them from service as adult leaders in the Boy Scouts of America does not reflect any considered judgment of their abilities or integrity and denies them the equitable treatment afforded by our Constitution in other sensitive arenas of leadership.
The Scout Law echoes this attitude in other contexts, when it requires a scout to "respect those with ideas and customs other than his own." Respect includes the basic presumption that an individual will be judged on the strength of character revealed through his or her actions. Denying all men and women of a certain sexual orientation the possibility of service as an adult leader does not show the respect to which each of us is entitled. Gay people hold values that cross the entire political spectrum; to treat them as a group with a single point of view does not respect individual differences.
The National Committee's current policy sets troops and packs in our region at odds with the predominant values of our communities. Entirely as a practical consideration, this hurts our recruiting and fundraising, and endangers our access to public facilities. Even more important, however, is its consequence for the moral lessons we teach our children. The Scout Law requires a scout to stand up for what he thinks is right. We are attempting to do so by urging the National Committee to reconsider its policy on this issue. We ask that each regional council, district, or sponsoring organization be permitted to articulate its own guidelines for the selection of adult leaders. Despite the National Committee's stated intention to the contrary, the current policy is troubling our scouts, "immersing them in the politics of the day," and inadvertently politicizing our leadership criteria.
Thank you for your consideration,
Graham Wong, Parents Committee Chair, Troop2, Santa Monica
Caroline Lagerfelt, Parents Committee Chair, Pack 97, Santa Monica