Dear BSA Great Salt Lake Council
I am aware of your letter to the BSA Board of Directors in advance of their meeting in Dallas this week where lifting the national ban on gays participating in scouting is to be discussed. In that letter you ask BSA to delay their decision to end the no-gays policy and make the Boy Scouts of America a slightly more accepting organization. The new policy, if voted in, will end the ban on gay Scouts and leaders but doesn't institute an official non-discrimination policy across all BSA councils or troops in our country.
Not long ago, the Mormon Church launched a website (www.mormonsandgays.org) to help clarify its position and teachings on same-sex attraction most notably that being gay, in and of itself, is not a sin. Since most of the scout troops in Utah are sponsored by the Mormon Church, does this action spurred by the Great Salt Lake Council signal misalignment with these overarching and welcoming efforts to help families better understand and support those loved-ones who are same-sex attracted?
Utah’s gay and transgender adolescents have the same needs, as all young people, for support, acceptance, and validation from peers, family members, and adults. These adolescents, however, must also cope with the additional challenge of social stigma and social marginalization related to their sexual orientation or gender identity. For many gay and transgender youth, victimization in school, at home, in faith-based and community settings is the norm.
Gay scouts or potential scouts deserve better and are surely watching and feeling the impact of these conversations – especially here where gay and transgender youth are too often the innocent targets of bullying, harassment, oppression and rejection.
Your leadership on this issue is crucial in fostering a safer and more accepting state for all Utahans. Please exercise the bravery and kindness that your tenets espouse and give gay and transgender youth the same opportunities as their straight peers to find additional purpose and meaning in their lives.