SEATTLE — The Chief Seattle Council of the Boy Scouts of America and CEO of Alaska Air called for scout leaders to “evolve as America has” and accept openly gay scouts and officials into the institution.
In an op-ed piece published Thursday in USA TODAY, Brad Tilden encouraged the group — which consists of more than 2.7 million youth members and more than 1 million adult volunteers — to lift the group’s ban on gay scouts.
The organizations 1,4000-member national council voted by secret ballot whether or not to add a sentence in the group’s charter allowing gay members. The results of the vote were to be released Thursday.
Tilden said there were three important factors in why the group should welcome gay scouts:
- First, we shouldn’t attempt to debate the morality of homosexuality. The only question we need to answer is whether we will be fully inclusive and allow gay Scouts and gay Scout leaders to participate in the Scouting program. The answer to this should be straightforward. When we ask Scouts to be friendly, helpful, courteous and kind, principles familiar to any Tenderfoot, aren’t we asking them to do so for all people?
- Second, we need to distinguish between sexual orientation and sexual behavior. Sexual orientation should not be a basis for exclusion, and sexual behavior (heterosexual or homosexual) has never been acceptable at Scouting events.
- Third, the current policy is harming the Boy Scouts’ ability to carry out our mission. It’s hurting membership growth, corporate support and the Boy Scouts’ reputation. Most important, it’s hurting the youth who are unable to participate, and those who do participate but are being taught that it’s OK to discriminate. The proposed vote to allow gay Scouts but not gay leaders compounds this injustice and will further undermine our organization as Scouts become adults and are forced to leave.
Boy Scouts President Wayne Perry wrote an opinion piece earlier this week supporting the new policy.
To read Tilden’s full piece, click here.