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United Kingdom Scouting Association

     While BSA was preparing to argue before the California Supreme Court that it was not covered by California's civil right laws (see Curran), in March 1997, the United Kingdom Scout Association (UKSA) adopted an equal opportunity policy that focused on sexual behavior, rather than sexual orientation. Thus, the UKSA removed their ban on openly gay youth and adults in their Scouting program, while BSA was still defending it's anti-gay policy in the courts.
     With this policy change, the UKSA only bars from membership, adult leaders who are atheists and/or pedophiles.
    Since BSA traces it's foundation to Baden-Powell, a look at the policies of the organization he founded on the 3 G's (Girls, Gays and the Godless) would be helpful.
     Below is the introduction to their Equal Opportunities Policy:

'Equal Opportunities' is often thought of as a recent phenomenon, but the principle of equality of opportunity is a fundamental part of Scouting. The World Scout Movement, which unites people in 218 countries, is a testament to Baden-Powell's vision that Scouting could enable 'friendship ... with one another irrespective of class or creed or country'.

Society in the United Kingdom has changed considerably since 1907, as has the way we perceive and describe our world. The Scout Association has had to recognize these changes in how we describe what we stand for. We need to use words in their contemporary sense and we need to state explicitly what was previously assumed to have been implicit in our Promise and Law. In restating the Association's long standing position on our fundamental principles, we can take the opportunity to set out guidelines for Group Scout Leaders and Commissioners faced with difficult situations which can arise from issues which are now conventionally grouped together under 'equal opportunities'.

The Scout Association is not open to an adult, or indeed to a young person, without question. There are legitimate grounds for exclusion (such as an adult who positively proclaims atheism as a way of life), and there are some grounds on which it is always illegitimate to provide less favorable treatment (such as a person's gender or ethnic origin). Scouting exists for young people and to promote their development through the Scout Method. Our aim is to make Scouting genuinely accessible to them. Leaders and other Volunteers are in the Movement primarily to serve young people, not for the benefits that Scouting brings to themselves. Therefore, we have produced separate policies, one for young people and another for Leaders and other Volunteers.

Commissioners and Group Scout Leaders have to manage complex relationships between adults. Inevitably some of these difficult relationships have their origin in what we call equal opportunities issues, and unfortunately we must expect to be confronted with accusations of discrimination in Scouting. Commissioners and Group Scout Leaders also need to ensure that Scouting offers young people models of adult behavior that enable them to develop positive values for their own adulthood.

The Equal Opportunities Policies, with the accompanying Guidelines and Case Studies, aim to provide Commissioners and Group Scout Leaders with the resources they need to tackle the issues head on. Human behavior is not simply black or white, but a highly variegated set of greys, and so the Equal Opportunities Policies do not suggest that the answers to difficult, and sometimes controversial, questions are invariably clear-cut or easy. What they do provide are principles which should be applied to discover fair solutions which accord with the values of Scouting - the same Scouting Baden-Powell founded nearly 100 years ago.
 

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