Work to Change Discriminatory Policies of Boy Scouts of America
1999 Action of Immediate Witness
WHEREAS Unitarian Universalists affirm the inherent worth and dignity of every person and a free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
WHEREAS Unitarian Universalists have consistently affirmed the rights of bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgender persons;
WHEREAS anti-gay violence has been on the rise, with a dramatic increase at public schools and with 19% of gay youth reporting having suffered physical attacks based on their sexual orientation;
WHEREAS the Boy Scouts of America's policy is to "not allow for the registration of avowed homosexuals as members or as leaders of the Boy Scouts of America";
WHEREAS the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) requires all Boy Scouts to affirm a duty to God;
WHEREAS many individual UUs are involved with the BSA, either as youth involved in the program or as adult leaders;
WHEREAS the BSA and many Boy Scout troops use public facilities;
WHEREAS the BSA dropped the UU Religion in Life emblem from its religious emblem program in May 1998 in response to the UUA's inclusion in the Religion in Life program pamphlet a copy of the UUA Board's 1992 resolution and other material mentioning the conflict between UU values and BSA policy;
WHEREAS the BSA rejected the newly revised version of the Religion in Life program on May 7, 1999, with Lawrence Ray Smith, Chairman of the BSA's Religious Relationships Committee, stating that the supplemental information the UUA wanted to provide with the Religion in Life program would be "using boys as a venue to air your differences with the policies of the Boy Scouts of America";
WHEREAS the BSA has maintained since the inception of the religious awards programs that the requirements are set by the denomination, the training in and certifying of the completion of the requirements is by local religious leaders, and the presentation of the award is by the local religious group and not by the BSA; and
WHEREAS we believe any attempt by the BSA to define what any religion can or cannot teach its Scouting youth is a clear interference with religious freedom;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the 1999 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association urges the Association to:
- continue efforts to seek the reinstatement of the Religion in Life emblem and to offer the program and award the emblem to UU and other Scouts in the meantime.
- publicize the Religion in Life program through Synapse, UU+Me, and other publications that are read by UU youth.
- publicize the Religion in Life program through the World, REACH, and other publications that are read by parents and religious educators.
- continue to use all appropriate venues to communicate this information to Unitarian Universalists and others about these conflicts.
- encourage the BSA to monitor troops nationwide to be sure that all Scouts are being treated equally and fairly despite their religions beliefs or the degree to which their families may practice them.
- support UU churches that choose to continue their charters with BSA troops while they work to try to change BSA's discriminatory policies.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the 1999 General Assembly urges U.S. Unitarian Universalists and U.S. Unitarian Universalist congregations to:
- support the efforts of "Scouting for All" and other groups that seek to overturn the Boy Scouts' discriminatory national policies.
- continue to present the Religion in Life award to UU Scouts, and to encourage Scouts to wear it on their uniforms.
- urge individual UU Scouts to remain in Scouting, and to encourage UU members to join Scouting, in order to work for change within the BSA.
- engage in educational programming within our communities to inform UUs and others about these issues.
- encourage the Boy Scouts of America to monitor troops nationwide to be sure that all scouts are being treated equally and fairly despite their religious beliefs or the degree to which their families may practice them.
- encourage UU scouts to include their congregations in Scouting rites of passage such as the Religion in Life award and Eagle rank ceremony, and encourage the UUA and member congregations to develop Unitarian Universalist support materials for these ceremonies.
- engage in dialogue with local Scout troops, councils, and the BSA on these issues.
- ask local Scout troops to adopt anti-discrimination policies that include religious belief, sexual orientation, and gender identity.
provide the necessary tools to empower youth to take action on these issues.
- speak out about these issues in our communities.