Two weeks ago a colleauge of mine, whose sons are active in the Boy Scouts of America, told me that he had received a survey from the organization asking about members’ attitudes toward the Boy Scouts’ policy of barring members and volunteers who are openly gay. The goal, according to the email, was to “listen to our members’ perspectives and concerns” as the BSA prepares to convene a national meeting in May to reconsider the membership requirements. That Monday the Dallas Voice posted the poll online, and since that time I’ve received numerous emails from current and former Scouts about it. One member told me that the survey reflected BSA’s “sincere desire to make the process fair and responsive;” another wrote to me that “even in their attempt to reform and get feeback from its members, BSA totally misses the mark.” As an Eagle Scout myself, I made my opinions clear in a column I wrote for the December 2012 issue of Texas Monthly, but I wanted to share some of the questions so readers could see how the poll was conducted and to find out how they would answer the questions.
For these questions, voters were asked to respond on a five-point scale ranging from “totally acceptable” to “totally unacceptable”:
A troop is chartered by an organization that does not believe homosexuality is wrong and allows gays to be ministers. The youth minister traditionally serves as the Scoutmaster for the troop. The congregation hires a youth minister who is gay. Is it acceptable or unacceptable for this youth minister to serve as the Scoutmaster?
Tom started in the program as a Tiger Cub, and finished every requirement for the Eagle Scout Award at 16 years of age. At his board of review Tom reveals that he is gay. Is it acceptable or unacceptable for the review board to deny his Eagle Scout award based on that admission?
Bob is 15 years old, and the only openly gay Scout in a Boy Scout troop. Is it acceptable or unacceptable for the troop leader to allow Bob to tent with a heterosexual boy on an overnight camping trip?
A gay male troop leader, along with another adult leader, is taking a group of boys on a camping trip following the youth protection guidelines of two-deep leadership. Is it acceptable or unacceptable for the gay adult leader to take adolescent boys on an overnight camping trip?
Johnny, a first grade boy, has joined Tiger Cubs with his friends. Johnny’s friends and their parents unanimously nominate Johnny’s mom, who is known by them to be lesbian, to be the den leader. Johnny’s pack is chartered to a church where the doctrine of that faith does not teach that homosexuality is wrong. Is it acceptable or unacceptable for his mother to serve as a den leader for his Cub Scout den?
David, a Boy Scout, believes that homosexuality is wrong. His troop is chartered to a church where the doctrine of that faith also teaches that homosexuality is wrong. Steve, an openly gay youth, applies to be a member in the troop and is denied membership. Is it acceptable or unacceptable for this troop to deny Steve membership in their troop?
The poll also asked open-ended questions such as:
What is your greatest concern if the policy remains in place and openly gay youth and adults are prohibited from joining Scouting? (Please be specific.)
What is your greatest concern if th epolicy is changed to allow charter organizations to make their own decisions to admit openly gay Scouts and leaders? (Please be specific.)
The survey also included this yes or no question:
Do you believe the policy prohibiting open homosexuals from being Scouts or adult Scout leaders is a core value of Scouting found in the Scout Oath and Law?