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2012-oped

Boy Scouts of America: Our politically unpopular trail

By Wayne Perry and Bob Mazzuca

     Scouting teaches young people that often they will be faced with choosing a direction, and many times the more difficult trail is the one that keeps you on course.

     Scouting's leadership announced that after a two-year evaluation, it is maintaining its membership policy to allow the organization to most efficiently accomplish its mission of preparing young people for life. Scouting has once again taken the tough trail.

     Let's be clear. The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) does not proactively inquire about anyone's sexual orientation, and sexuality aside, as a private organization Scouting may deny membership to anyone whose behavior creates a distraction to its mission.

     The fact is most of our youth members are under the age of 12, and the majority of the parents we serve do not believe Scouting is the right forum for same-sex attraction to be introduced, discussed or demonstrated in any way. Nor does Scouting endeavor to teach about sex. Scouting doesn't do sexuality.

     With 2.7 million young people and 1.1 million adults, the BSA represents every socioeconomic, religious and ethnic community across the nation. It is unreasonable to expect any single policy to accommodate everyone's views about this topic.

     We fully understand and appreciate that not everyone will agree with the direction we've chosen. Our role is to equip young people with life skills so one day, they can make their own decision about these issues. Scouting won't miss its small window of opportunity to provide such lessons to its youth.

     Others will undoubtedly accuse Scouting of being "behind the times," but it can't be simply because it requires members to adhere to a policy; most organizations do that at some level.

     Scouting can only be considered behind the times if you define it as teaching young people to sacrifice individual agendas for a common good and to be unafraid to take the tough and politically unpopular trail to accomplish your mission.

Wayne Perry is the national president and top volunteer for Boy Scouts of America. Bob Mazzuca is the chief scout executive and top professional for Boy Scouts of America.
 

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