Monday, July 6, 2015

BSA Membership Standard

Cross Timbers District Members-at-Large:

For those of you that aren't aware, on May 21 Robert Gates gave a speech at the 2015 National Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Ga.  In that discussion he indicated that another change would likely be forthcoming from National regarding the policy currently restricting LGBT leaders from being part of the BSA.
The full speech can be found at

(the link is cued to the point in the speech where Dr. Gates discusses the change in membership standard.)

Some of the topic highlights are as follows:

       We face increasing legal challenges at the federal, state, and local levels. Today, 21 states, the District of Columbia, and more than 140 cities and counties have enacted laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

       Impending legal action means a court could make an overly broad ruling forbidding any kind of membership standard, including our foundational belief in "Duty to God." The best way to avoid this possibility is for the BSA to set its own course.

       The BSA is considering the removal of the national adult leader restriction related to sexual orientation, while preserving the rights of our religious chartered organizations and respecting their diverse beliefs.

On Wednesday  June 17, Longhorn Council held a meeting of all the Key 3 District Leadership to discuss the speech and the possible impact on our organization.  While there hasn't been any formal announcement from the National office, the Longhorn Council leadership believes that the BSA Board may be implementing this change to our bylaws within the next 30 to 90 days.

It remains the position of the Boy Scouts of America that the ideals and principles of the Scout Oath and Law are central to teaching young people to make better choices over their lifetimes. As a result, when the national policy is changed, we believe that the membership qualifications will be pushed down to the charter organizations so that they can define what's allowable or not based on the charter's bylaws.  With this change, charters exercising their First Amendment rights, will still be allowed to decline any application based on the tenants of their faith. 

       This revision will allow Scouting's members and parents to select local units, chartered to organizations with similar beliefs, that best meet the needs of their families.

       No one in Scouting will be asked to join a unit that compromises their personal religious values.

       The BSA will continue to legally defend (indemnify) the rights of its religious chartered organizations.

       Legal consultants believe this position/paradigm will survive legal challenge based on First Amendment rights.

       Scouting has always held that sexuality is a topic for family and religious discussion.  That has not changed and remains Scouting's position – emphasized now more than ever – Discussions concerning sexual matters are prohibited in Scouting contexts and left to parents and religious leaders.

       Scouting will continue to emphasize YOUTH PROTECTION and lead the nation in this area.  Our YPT program will protect our youngsters and new standards call for an even greater emphasis on no tolerance for YPT violations.

       Boys and girls who come from religious traditions where homosexuality is accepted will still be able to participate in Scouting.

Our District Leadership Key 3: Tracy, Craig and I ask you take time to prayerfully consider your commitment to the BSA and our scouts.  If you feel that you can no longer support our organization with these changes, please let us know in the next few weeks because we need to ensure that our leadership is committed to the success of our mission, the youth of our community. 

Those who are willing to continue to serve, with enthusiasm, need to pull together all the more cohesively and powerfully as our movement responds to this transition.

If you have any questions or opinions on the pending policy change, you can email Dr. Gates at

He has committed to read all the communications, but cannot guarantee that he will respond to each member directly. 

Tomorrow night at the District Committee meeting I will review a Power Point presentation that was presented by our Council President, Jim Patton, at the June meeting.

Yours in Scouting,

Gregory Schadt, District Chair
Cross Timbers District
Longhorn Council, BSA

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