Today, the BSA’s 1,400 national delegates voted to rescind the ban on openly gay young men from participating in Scouts. According to the resolution, “Any sexual conduct, whether homosexual or heterosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting.” However, the BSA director of public affairs stated in response to a question as to wether the BSA will ask scouts about their sexual activity that “we do not ask now and will not if the resolution passes.” [ibid] The LDS Church released a response to the vote, which indicated the continued sponsorship of LDS Scouting and included the following statement:
The Church’s long-established policy for participation in activities is stated in the basic instructional handbook used by lay leaders of the Church: “young men…who agree to abide by Church standards” are “welcomed warmly and encouraged to participate” (Handbook 2: Administering the Church , 8.17.3). This policy applies to Church-sponsored Scout units. Sexual orientation has not previously been—and is not now—a disqualifying factor for boys who want to join Latter-day Saint Scout troops. Willingness to abide by standards of behavior continues to be our compelling interest.
These standards are outlined in the booklet For the Strength of Youth and include abstinence from sexual relationships. We remain firmly committed to upholding these standards and to protecting and strengthening boys and young men.
This statement is interesting as it describes the threshold for participation in all youth activities as an agreement to abide the Church standards as outlined in the For the Strength of the Youth. In support of this position the statement quotes from Handbook 2:
Young Men of Other Faiths
Young men of other faiths who agree to abide by Church standards should be welcomed warmly and encouraged to participate in youth activities. Expenses for their participation should be handled the same as for young men who are members of the Church. When these young men participate in Scouting, their parents may give donations to help fund activities.
Beyond quoting from a section about non-Mormon behavior as a policy for Mormon members, I see today’s statement as indicating two possible policies, the latter being more likely. First, this statement could indicate that any behavior in violation of the For the Strength of the Youth pamphlet would require the barring of LDS youth from participating in Young Men’s or Young Women’s activities, including Scouts. This seems like an untenable and undesirable position. Consequently, I think today’s statement outlines a policy of inclusion.
Despite our community standards, we welcome our children and young adults to participate in the programs of the Church. If they are struggling, whether with swearing, drug or alcohol consumption, or premarital sexual relations (with those of the same or opposite sex), we fight to have them remain among us. We recognize the normative standards of the behavior of the church. We hope that our youth will agree to abide by them. But if they don’t we invite them to. While we might excuse a young man or woman who decided to light up in the foyer of the church to do so elsewhere, I can’t imagine any church leader excluding that same individual if they were willing to abide the standards of the church during the activity.