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Public vs. Private Actions by Individuals within the Boy Scout Program

The ultimate purpose of the scouting program is to produce young men who will live their lives in accordance with the Scout Oath and twelve points of the Scout Law, who will use the values embodied in the Oath and Law to make good ethical decisions, who have learned to be and are leaders in their communities – in a word, who are good citizens.

The values endorsed by the scout program are embodied in twelve words, the twelve points of the Scout Law – Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean, and Reverent.

The points of the Scout law – specifically "friendly, courteous, and kind" - make it clear that negative attitudes and behavior – discrimination of any kind - directed to any individual or group based on race, religion, national origin, creed, gender, or lifestyle, by an individual scout or scout leader or as a unit in the scout organization, are improper and unacceptable. Issues of politics, which involve specific economic, commercial and social beliefs, are not involved in the Scouting program. Within the Scouting program, any attempt to involve politics and political issues is inappropriate and not permitted.

Sexual conduct and sexual orientation is not a part of the scout program. Any attempt, intentional or not, to involve any issue of sexual conduct or orientation in the Scouting program, whether active or passive, positive or negative nature, whether from within the scout program or from outside the program, is inappropriate.

The Scout Oath requires Scouts and Scout Leaders to be "morally straight". The concept of "morally straight" does not involve issues of politics, religion, or sex – it involves concepts of "right and wrong", "honesty and honorable" – the making of ethical choices.

In leading and teaching by example, the Scouts and Scout leaders are expected to show scout spirit – to live in accordance with the Scout Oath, Law, motto and slogan. Only when the ability to lead and teach by example is adversely impacted by the actions of the leader or a scout do those actions become an issue for the scout organization. Whether actions by any individual are intended to impact the scout organization or the impact is an unintended result, the only issue for the scout organization is whether the impact of the action is negative on the individual scouts, the unit, the scouting program and the ability of the scout leader to provide the program. Whether that impact is in the area of politics, religion, sex, or involves a violation of law is immaterial – the negative impact is the basis for concern.

Just as the Scout program requires that, within the Scouting Program, the leaders be neutral on issues of politics and religion, they are also required to be neutral on issues of sex and sexual orientation. Only when the ability of a scout leader to lead and teach by example is actually compromised by his or her actions, whether within the scout unit or outside the scout program, do these actions become a concern within the Scout program.

Following the requirement of the Scout Law that forbids discrimination against any individual or group, anyone who personally embraces the values embodied in the Scout Oath and Law, who does not attempt, directly or indirectly, to inject issues involving politics, religion, or sex into the scout program, whose goal is the development of young adults who will use the values embodied in the oath and law to make good ethical decisions, to become leaders in their communities, to be good citizens, and who demonstrates those qualities by his or her actions, is welcome in the scout family.

Read the letter from Troop 2, Santa Monica to Boy Scouts of America >


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