Membership Standards Review—Background

For 103 years, the Boy Scouts of America's focus has been on working together to deliver the nation's foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training. Today, Scouting represents nearly 2.7 million youth and 1 million adult members across the nation, with diverse beliefs about a number of important issues.

Scouting's role has been to equip children with life skills so they can make their own decisions about important issues, while teaching members to treat everyone with courtesy and respect at all times, regardless of any perceived difference.

Recently within the Scouting family there has been significant discussion about the BSA';s membership policy regarding sexual orientation, including requests to engage in dialogue about the current BSA policy.

Scouting's membership requirements are:

The applicant must possess the moral, educational, and emotional qualities that the Boy Scouts of America deems necessary to afford positive leadership to youth. The applicant must also be the correct age, subscribe to the precepts of the Declaration of Religious Principle, and abide by the Scout Oath or Promise, and the Scout Law.

While the BSA does not proactively inquire about the sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or members, we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA.

Scouting believes the Boy Scouts of America is not the place to resolve divergent viewpoints in society and believes that if same-sex attraction is going to be introduced or discussed, it should be with parents, caregivers, or spiritual advisers, at the appropriate time and in the right setting—but outside of the Scouting program.

In 2010, the organization's leaders—the Chief Scout Executive and the president—convened a committee of professional and volunteer leaders to determine whether the continuation of that policy was in the best interest of the Boy Scouts of America. The committee determined that, at that time, it was in the best interest of the organization to maintain the policy.

The decision to maintain the policy began an even deeper dialogue within Scouting. Out of respect for the diverse beliefs of Scouting's chartered organizations, the National Executive Board spearheaded discussions about the issue, including potentially amending the policy to allow chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting to accept membership and select leaders consistent with their organization's mission, principles, or religious beliefs.

This created an outpouring of feedback from the American public, from both those who agree with the current policy and those who support a change. This feedback reinforced how deeply people care about Scouting and how passionate they are about the organization.

After careful consideration and extensive dialogue within the Scouting family, along with comments from those outside the organization, the volunteer officers of the Boy Scouts of America's National Executive Board concluded that due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a more deliberate review of its membership policy.