Scout Association: “sexual orientation should not be a bar to membership”

by Richard on July 30, 2012

I was very pleased to read this statement from the Scout Association. I’m reproducing it in full.

There has been coverage in the media and on social media of the recent decision by the Boy Scouts of America to uphold their ban excluding gay people from membership of that organisation, either as Scouts or leaders.

We would like to restate our own, very different position with regard to this issue within The Scout Association in the UK, through the following statement.

‘The Scout Association is aware of the recent decision by the Boy Scouts of America to continue with its ban of gay leaders and members. We have been asked by our own members and leaders here in the UK, and by our wider stakeholders and community, to affirm our own position on this aspect of diversity and inclusivity.

We recognise that each National Scout Organisation within our World Scout Movement is an independent organisation that delivers a programme designed to meet the needs of the communities in the country in which it operates. Those communities will judge the relevance and appropriateness of each organisation’s policies by joining or not joining that organisation.

In the UK we have a very clear policy and practice that welcomes adults and young people (boys and girls) irrespective of their sexual orientation. We are proud that we have had this approach in place for many years. We believe that this reflects the needs and wants of the communities in which we operate, and reflects our affirmed view that sexual orientation should not be a bar to membership. We believe that discriminating against an individual simply on the grounds of his or her sexuality is inappropriate, and is contrary to our interpretation of the inclusivity and values of Scouting.

In the UK, our Scout membership has seen significant and sustained growth over the last eight years for young people and for adult volunteers. We have been pleased to support Pride events. We openly and equally welcome LGBT and heterosexual young people, volunteers and supporters who wish to join our Movement. We would hope that as a result of further dialogue and reflection, the Boy Scouts of America would reconsider their position to further serve young people and the wider community.’

Wayne Bulpitt, UK Chief Commissioner and Derek Twine, Chief Executive

July 2012

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }


d 07.30.12 at 7:44 pm

If sexual orientation is not a reason to exclude persons…What will you do with those sexually orientated pedophiles? Will you ban them because of sexual orientation?


Richard 07.30.12 at 8:01 pm

Sexual relationships between adults and children are, by definition, abusive. The Scout Association has a strict safeguarding policy. For adults that means not only a check through the criminal records bureau, but the taking of references and an interview with a district panel. Mistakes still happen of course, but the system is pretty robust. As I understand it, a significant driver behind the BSA’s exclusion of gay members is the erroneous perception of a link between homosexuality and child abuse. I’m glad that the Scout Association rejects that kind of prejudice.


Kim 07.30.12 at 10:20 pm

As I understand it, a significant driver behind the BSA’s exclusion of gay members is the erroneous perception of a link between homosexuality and child abuse.

Exactly. If d doesn’t get that, he’s got some serious issues of ignorance, bigotry — or both.


Richard 07.30.12 at 10:24 pm

Turns out that d is a she, Kim.
But your point stands, of course.


Corin Keiler-Lloyd 07.31.12 at 9:16 pm

The point stands until you have been homosexually abused as a child. Then it sort of doesn’t.


Bob Gilston 07.31.12 at 10:40 pm

Corin - Surely that statement should read “until you have been abused as a child”? Why do you feel that homosexuals are more likely to abuse than any other person?


Corin Keiler-Lloyd 08.01.12 at 4:08 pm

Because that’s what happened to a lot of boys I knew.


Richard 08.02.12 at 8:56 am

Child sexual abuse is wrong. That much we can agree on.

The question is, is homosexuality a reason in itself to exclude a person from the scout movement. The evidence says not. That doesn’t mean that no homosexual has ever abused a child of course. It does mean that a blanket ban on homosexuals is based on prejudice not facts.


Tony Buglass 08.05.12 at 11:36 pm

Corin, I understand that the vast majority of paedophile abuse is heterosexual. I’m sure the stats are available somewhere, but suggesting that it is mainly a homosexual problem is simply wrong. Indeed, “that’s what happened to a lot of boys I knew” is the sort of statement that immediately makes me suspicious. It happened to a boy I knew, so I know it happens, but sex abuse has happened to more girls I knew than boys. As for “a lot” - I was challenged following a church meeting by someone who was unhappy with the policy we had agreed: “A lot of us think it’s wrong.” When I didn’t bend, she continued “some of us are very unhappy.” When I still didn’t bend, she stormed off, with “Well I don’t like it!” I think we’d finally got to the truth.

Now, I’m not saying that you’re deliberately manipulating the case the way she was, but you can see why that kind of argument makes me suspicious. If you want to prove your point, can you offer us some statistical evidence?

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