Timberlake: Boy Scouts to rethink LGBT policy thanks to grass roots movement

Ian Timberlake

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which is the single largest contributor to the Boy Scouts of America, stated that if the Boy Scouts allowed homosexual members then the church would withdraw all financial support from the organization. Accordingly, making a business decision after receiving such pressure from a religious organization, the BSA complied.

This was a paragraph in a column I wrote last July after the Boy Scouts made a public reaffirmation of its anti-homosexual policy after a two year long internal debate. Two years of internal debate must show that they were conflicted to begin with.

Earlier this week the Boy Scout organization has eaten the words it once so firmly stood by last July, saying they plan on revisiting the decision to not allow homosexuals in the organization, and instead leave it up to individual troops to decide.

Already pressure was mounting for the organization to rewrite its policy, at the same time held at gunpoint by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints over potential funding leading to the Boy Scout’s July decision.

Outside of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and other religious funding, there are many corporations that support the Boy Scouts. In the last several months, after the Boy Scout’s reaffirmation of its anti-gay policy, these corporations have also put some heat on the Boy Scouts claiming it violates their nondiscrimination policy.

With the Boy Scouts already on a membership decline over the last several years (20 percent over the last decade), a loss of support from its many corporate sponsors would be crippling, regardless if its top two contributors are the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and United Methodist church.

Last July I also wrote, “No law needs to change; the BSA is still completely protected by the Constitution, and that is the beauty of a free society. The change of becoming a less discriminating organization needs to happen internally; and this ruling, though pathetic, might just finally teeter the Boy Scouts towards a truly moralistic organization.”

In 2000, the Boy Scouts went all the way to the Supreme Court on the matter of discriminating against gays and the court ruled a split 5-4 in favor of the Boy Scouts of America. So long as the group is a not-for-profit, private organization, they can discriminate against whomever they choose.

Just this last May, Eagle Scout Zach Wahls of Iowa City, Iowa, turned in a petition containing over a quarter million signatures that called for the lifting of the gay ban. Since Wahls petition and the Boy Scouts’ failure to act upon it, many other online petitions began sprouting up, amounting to signatures in the millions.

Many major corporations have pulled their funding from the organization due to their continued, active discrimination. A few of these CEOs are taking an active effort in actually lifting the ban, including members on the actual BSA Board. The National Council Board includes CEOs of major international businesses. Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T, supports lifting the ban, and he is next in line to take control of the board.

At the same time, the ultimate reason why the Boy Scouts organization is so readily thinking about reversing its July reaffirmation soon, is thanks to the grassroots movement it forged itself, essentially digging their own grave.

Troops, leaders, parents, boys, civil rights advocates and Eagle Scouts such as myself caused an uproar. Be it total troop defiance of the policy or Eagle Scouts immolating their own rank in front of the council, all over America (and the world), the Boy Scouts of America National Council was marked as one of the greatest bigoted organizations of our time.

Though not a final decision, both President Barack Obama and his former competitor Mitt Romney stated the association should be all inclusive, mounting even more weight on the board’s shoulders. The board is said to meet and discuss next week.

Just as I concluded my July column, I will conclude this column with the posting of the Boy Scouts of America’s National Council mailing address. As stressed before, please voice your opinion to them, personally. A discriminant society is a primitive and amoral society.

Boy Scouts of America, National Council

1325 West Walnut Hill Lane

Irving, Texas 75015-2079


Ian Timberlake is a senior in aerospace engineering from Chicago.