Boy Scouts Urged Not to Ease Restriction on Gays; Groups Say Traditional Values Must Be Upheld

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Byline: Cheryl Wetzstein , THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Traditional-values groups are urging their supporters to tell the Boy Scouts of America to stand by its policy of not letting avowed homosexuals join the organization.

A final decision has not been made on the BSA sexual-orientation policy; however, we do anticipate discussion on the matter at the meeting Monday through Wednesday of the BSA's national executive board in Irving, Texas, spokesman Deron Smith said.

On Monday, Mr. Smith released a statement from BSA leaders saying they were discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation. The move would permit local organizations to address this issue - as well as set membership rules and make leadership choices - based on their own mission, principles or religious beliefs.

Traditional-values groups quickly urged the BSA leaders not to abandon their policy.

We call on the Boy Scouts of America to remain faithful to their founding and to above all be courageous in pursuing their core principle of 'duty to God,' said Penny Nance, chief executive and president of Concerned Women for America.

BSA has already won this battle, she said, referring to the 2000 Supreme Court ruling that affirmed the BSA's constitutional right to set its own membership rules.

Tell them that you want to see the organization stand firm in its moral values and respect the right of parents to discuss these sexual topics with their children, said the Family Research Council, which was echoed by Focus on the Family's Citizen Link.

However, Rabbi Lisa Vernon, cubmaster of Pack 118 in West Orange, N.J., said she and her colleagues are very hopeful that BSA leaders will change the national policy.

Our pack has never discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation, said Ms. Vernon, but last year, her pack and Troop 118 had their charter ended by Golda Och Academy, because of the academy's conflict with the national BSA policy. Both units have since found a new chartering organization.

Homosexuality is not something that should be discussed in organized Scouting activities anyway, said Ms. Vernon. What's appropriate to discuss is how everybody needs to be treated with respect and dignity. …