Latter-day Saint congregation leaders throughout the United States are receiving letters signed by the First Presidency of the LDS Church reaffirming its stance on a controversial new Boy Scouts of America policy.
The Church responded to the Boy Scouts of America vote with the following statement:
“For the past 100 years, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has enjoyed a strong relationship with Boy Scouts of America, based on our mutual interest in helping boys and young men understand and live their duty to God and develop upright moral behavior. As the Church moves forward in its association with the Boy Scouts of America, Church leaders will continue to seek the most effective ways to address the diverse needs of young people in the United States and throughout the world.”
The LDS Church sponsors the most boy scouts of any organization in the country, totaling about 430,000 young men.
Shortly following the LDS Church’s public announcement, the Utah National Parks Council stated that “the adoption of the new membership resolution by the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America is a win for everyone involved in Scouting — especially for the youth, who will be the greatest beneficiaries.”
The Boy Scouts of America’s new resolution states that “no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation on preference alone.”
The BSA did state, however, that leaders with same-sex orientation could not participate as leaders.
Ron Nyman, Director of Field Services for BSA in Utah, said he agrees with Boy Scouts of America, whatever position the organization makes.
“My opinion is the same opinion as any employee as any Boy Scouts of America,” Nyman said. “Any sexual conduct, be it homosexual or heterosexual, is contrary to the virtues of scouting … This is all about living the values, and we’re focusing on one phase of a kid’s life and forgetting that there are 12 points to the Scout Law, equal in their distribution.”
“We’re trying to serve kids,” Nyman said.
Paul Royal, chair of the BSA Wasatch District, said leaders are still gathering information about how to put the new policy in place.
“We don’t yet know how the integration will work,” Royal said.
Still, Royal said, he expects there will be understanding — and a smooth transition.
“Scouting has just been about the boys; it’s never been about sexual orientation,” Royal said. “That never comes up around the campfire.”
Roger Gonzalez, Provo Peak District chair for BSA, said he wasn’t surprised that the LDS Church is supportive of the inclusion.
“The Church has always taken that stance,” Gonzalez said. “Nothing has changed.”