The LDS Church announced on Thursday that it would officially endorse The Boy Scouts of America's (BSA) recent proposal to change their anti-gay policies and allow gay youth members, but not adults, to join the organization. The BSA will decide whether or not to adopt this new policy via an internal vote at the end of May.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the BSA's largest sponsor, stated that it felt that "The current BSA proposal constructively addresses a number of important issues that have been part of the ongoing dialogue, including consistent standards for all BSA partners, recognition that Scouting exists to serve and benefit youth rather than Scout leaders, a single standard of moral purity for youth in the program, and a renewed emphasis for Scouts to honor their duty to God."
"The LDS Church’s endorsement may be crucial to the Scouts: the 14 million-member global faith has 420,977 youths in 37,882 Scouting units across the nation," writes Peggy Fletcher Stack in The Salt Lake Tribune.
Kendall Wilcox, an openly gay Mormon filmmaker and a co-founder of Mormons Building Bridges, told The Salt Lake Tribune that he felt the Scouts' proposal was a "step in the right direction," but that excluding gay leaders "sends a troubling message to youth" because excluding scouts upon their reaching adulthood tell them that "they are no longer considered worthy." Mormons Building Bridges is a pro-LGBT Mormon group which has been hosting "Community Conversations" at libraries to discuss the Scouts' proposal.
It is an important step that the LDS Church support the inclusion of gay young people in Scouting, and follows a recent pattern of the church being more supportive of the LGBT community. However, Mormon leadership should also offer its support for a non-discrimination policy for gay and lesbian adults, like it did for a city-wide non-discrimination ordinance in Salt Lake City in 2009.
At the time, a church spokesperson said in a statement "I represent a church that believes in human dignity, in treating others with respect even when we disagree — in fact, especially when we disagree." The BSA's current proposal robs gay mothers and fathers of their dignity, by sending the message that 'gay youth are okay, but gay adults are dangerous.'
GLAAD first started calls for the Boy Scouts of America to end its ban on gay scouts and scout leaders in April 2012 after Jennifer Tyrrell, a mom and den leader from Ohio was removed from her 7-year-old’s Cub Scout Pack for being gay. Tyrrell’s Change.org petition has attracted more than 343,000 signatures in support of ending the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay Scouts and leaders. For more on GLAAD's work on this campaign, including a timeline of key events and way to take action, visit http://www.glaad.org/scouts and http://www.glaad.org/denmother.