UCC advocate lauds Boy Scouts repeal of ban on gay leaders
Citing the social, political and legal changes taking place in our country, the National Executive Board of The Boy Scouts of America voted to dismantle its ban on gay adult scout leaders and employees.
The Rev. Mike Schuenemeyer, UCC executive for health and wholeness advocacy, issued this statement supporting the July 27 resolution removing the national restriction on gay adult leaders, repealing the policy that deeply divided the membership of the 105-year-old Texas-based organization.
I applaud the action taken today by the National Board of the Boy Scouts of America, which allows local scouting programs to choose their leaders based on their values and eliminates the ban on gay and bisexual adult leadership.
The United Church of Christ has participated in Scouting since its beginning and we have engaged this struggle for inclusion and justice because we have also witnessed the ways in which scouting has offered generations of youth and adults opportunities to build friendships and foster mentoring relationships, develop leadership skills, and embody values that encourage a reverence for the earth and service on behalf of others; and because discrimination is inconsistent with the values of scouting.
The United Church of Christ members, pastors and leadership has called for a policy change since 1978 when the policy excluding youth and adult members on the basis of their sexual orientation was first officially adopted. We have done so because we are a church that believes that discrimination against anyone based on sexual orientation or gender identity is contrary to our understanding of the teachings of Christ. We have witnessed the harm that has been done as a result of discrimination, not only to gay, bisexual and transgender youth and adults, but also to their family, friends and allies. We also are witnesses to the blessings of inclusive ministries and the benefits of creating safe spaces where people may live, grow and serve in the fullness of their identities. To this end, we look forward to encouraging inclusive scouting programs throughout the United Church of Christ and to providing whatever assistance we can in the implementation of this policy change in the Boy Scouts of America.
In May, BSA President, former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, called the ban “unsustainable” and said it needed to change.
Announcing the vote to repeal the ban Gates said, “for far too long this issue has divided and distracted us. Now it’s time to unite behind our shared belief in the extraordinary power of scouting to be a force for good in a community and in the lives of its youth members.”
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