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Help Desk

Frequently Asked Questions

BSA’s Announcement After the Adult Vote (2015)

BSA’s Policy FAQ Regarding the Youth Vote (2013)

I’m confused. What is the BSA’s membership policy?

The policy change that took effect on January 1 of 2014 means that no youth member (under 18 years old) of any BSA program can be expelled simply for being gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Additionally, the policy change that took effect on July 27 of 2015 means no adult member of any BSA program above the unit level (e.g. district, council, national) can be expelled simply for being gay, lesbian, or bisexual. However, units chartered by faith-based organizations can still deny someone membership in that unit because of their sexual orientation. Units chartered to secular organizations, however, must consider adult applications without regard to sexual orientation.

To report violations of the BSA’s policies, please follow the instructions in this document.

Should I enroll my child in BSA?

Absolutely! All of us can point to Scouting as instrumental in shaping who we are. Scouting combines leadership, survival, and teamwork with basic skills such as time-management, first aid, and planning. The discipline and dedication they learn along the way will undoubtedly make their Scouting experience one that develops them as youth and guides them throughout life. It is Scouts for Equality’s position that although the BSA’s membership standards allow for individual faith-based units to remain discriminatory, the greatest obstacle to equality has already been achieved (ending the blanket ban). Now, it’s up to all of us to get involved in Scouting to help ensure that the pro-equality voice within Scouting is heard. This alone is the best way to pave the path towards an even more inclusive and brighter future for the BSA. Scouting is a rewarding program–we encourage you to enroll your child in the BSA and to lead by example.

As a gay youth, Scouting is my life. What can I do if I’m in a unit chartered by a faith-based organization, and I know they’re going to kick me out of the unit when I turn 18?

As a young adult who has been through the Scouting program, you are uniquely qualified to help other youth on their journey. You are both knowledgeable about the program and likely much more able than older parent leaders to relate to other youth because of your age and experiences. You can certainly ask your unit committee to allow you to register as an adult, but be prepared for them to say no. Prior to this, you should have already begun researching other ways to stay involved in Scouting – whether that’s by registering as an adult leader with another unit, remaining involved in the OA or a Venturing Crew / Sea Scout Ship, or volunteering at the district or council level.

If your Scouting family asks you to leave or you are uncomfortable remaining active due to the unit’s ban on gay adults, then make sure people know why you can no longer assist that unit in Scout activities. As a youth, you helped make the program what it is, and that ability does not go away simply because you are considered an adult.

We want to start a new BSA unit. What should we do?

Whether you are looking to start a Cub Scout Pack, Boy Scout Troop, or any of the other available options, there are some similar starting points. Some of the things you’ll need to get started are a sponsor (a religious group, civic association, or group of parents), a meeting place, and some members. With these in place, your district’s new-unit commissioner can work with you to establish your new unit. A trove of resources on this process can be found on the BSA’s website and the application can be found here. If you’re starting a new unit, please contact us at chapters@scoutsforequality.org so that we can put you in touch with your local SFE Chapter. We also have staff and volunteers that would love to help you get the unit organized. Email us to let us know what you’re thinking, and we’ll help in any way we can.

My Pack/Troop/Crew wants to show their support for everyone in Scouting. How can we help?

We’re glad you asked! The unit can sign up as an Inclusive Unit through our Inclusive Unit Program. You can also direct people to join us here and visit our Facebook page. Furthermore, you can also show your support to other Scouters by wearing the Inclusive Scouting Award as a symbol of your commitment to diversity and equality in Scouting. If you want to get more involved, we’d love to hear from you, so email us!

Our Sponsor (Chartering Organization or CO) has told us that they will no longer host a BSA unit. What can we do?

While some COs have decided to sever ties with their BSA units, many other groups have been eager to host these units. You can often find support from a local religious center or civic group that has a meeting space, or you can merge with an existing unit in your area. If you have any difficulties navigating this transition, please contact us and we’d be happy to help.

As a Scout/Scouter/Volunteer, how can I continue to support pushing for more inclusion while recognizing the right of the BSA as a private organization to set its own policy?

The personal view on whether the BSA should open its doors to all is not quite the same as the view of a Scout that the BSA should change its policies. The policy change on youth was voted on by adult Scouts representing every BSA Council, and was therefore a change that represented the wishes of the BSA as a member-led organization. The policy change on adults was voted on by the National Executive Board, which is a group of adult volunteers from all over the country. Remember that as a member of the organization, you have the opportunity and obligation to help determine where this organization will go in the future.

Bullying/Hazing/At-Risk If you or your Scout are experiencing problems as a result the new membership policy, please contact us via the contact form below. We treat each case individually based on the nature of the issue and will do our best to help you through it. You might also find our “Guide to Coming Out for Scouts and Scouters” helpful. If you are at risk, please immediately contact: The Trevor Project @ 1-866-488-7386.

Ask Us a Question

If you have a question about the new membership policy, how to start an inclusive troop, or any other general Scouting topics, please send us an email to: info@scoutsforequality.com