Some Friends have expressed their concerns about Quaker involvement with Scouting because of Boy Scouts of America’s policy preventing openly gay or lesbian individuals from being members. These Friends feel that Quakers should not be involved in Scouting at all.
While there is no global consensus on the issue, the Scout associations in Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States welcome gay, lesbian, and transgender youth and adults. The Boy Scouts of America currently admits boys and young men of all ages and young women over the age of 14 as members, Girl Guides of Canada and Girl Guiding UK admit only girls as members and only women as adult volunteers, while Scouts Canada and the The Scout Association (UK) admit boys and girls as members and men and women as adult volunteers.
The Boy Scouts of America’s current policy on membership can be reviewed here. Highlights of the policy include:
It is the philosophy of Scouting to welcome all eligible youth, regardless of race, ethnic background, or orientation, who are willing to accept Scouting’s values and meet any other requirements of membership.
The Boy Scouts of America allows chartered organizations to select adult leaders without regard to sexual orientation, continuing Scouting’s long-standing policy of chartered organizations selecting their leaders. This allows Scouting’s members and parents to select local units, chartered to organizations with similar beliefs, that best meet the needs of their families. This change also respects the right of religious chartered organizations to continue to choose adult leaders whose beliefs are consistent with their own.
Scouts Canada has adopted a Social Justice and Diversity Policy which reads:
“In keeping with our fundamental principles – Duty to God, Duty to Others, Duty to Self – Scouts Canada is committed to social justice including the promotion of gender and member diversity at all levels of the organization, both in its structures and programs and to the elimination of discrimination on the groups of race, gender, ethnicity, financial ability, sexual orientation, religion, disability or age.“
The Scout Association (UK) has adopted the following policy:
“There is no basis on which any volunteer offering his or her services in any capacity can be refused an appointment in, or Membership of, the Movement on the grounds of heterosexual or homosexual orientation. Homosexuality has been perceived as incompatible with Scouting by some people (both within and outside The Scout Association) on the basis of a presumed link between homosexuality and paedophilia. This perception has been used to deny homosexual people the chance to work with young people as Scout Leaders. There is no link between homosexuality and paedophilia, and therefore there is no justification for restricting Membership on this basis.”
The Scout Association UK) has also prepared resource material to assist young gay and lesbian members of Scouting in coming out and material to assist adults and leaders in supporting young gay and lesbian members of Scouting.