Top Document: [rec.scouting.issues] Commonly asked questions (FAQ 2)
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Date: 16 August 1998 Q. Who sets policy in the BSA? A. The BSA owns two organizations: Learning for Life/Exploring and = the BSA traditional Scouting programs. Learning for Life/Exploring holds all of the vocational training programs within the BSA effective August 1, 1998 (e.g., Law Explorer Posts) as well as its program for school aged youth. The following is a description of the BSA traditional Scouting organization. Taken heavily from a letter by settummanque, or blackeagle (blkeagle@DYNASTY.NET) There are three groups that actually *make* BSA policy at the national level. These groups are the various national-level committees, the National Executive Board, and in the case of Exploring and the Order of the Arrow, the Council of Chiefs and the National Exploring Cabinet, which I'll lump together as "youth boards". There's another group, the National Council, that "radifies" the actions of the Board. The BSA has 31 standing and 14 ad-hoc National Committees. Each of those committees are chaired by and staffed by volunteers from all over the nation. Many of these volunteers serve as Council and/or unit-level volunteers in addition to their national service. Committee members serve typically for a one-year period and are selected by national professional staff advisors and/or volunteer committee chairs. This includes those serving on one of the ad-hoc or task force committees formed to address specific issues within the BSA. Each Committee also has one to two National staff advisors, whose jobs are twofold: one, to serve as the professional day-to-day manager of that committee and the other, to monitor and "corral-in" those committees that somehow stray from what "will fly in Peoria", program speaking. Each National staff advisor has been carefully selected by senior national staff members, attend regular "sharing and discovery" meetings during the week, and therefore know more about what's going on within the various committees outside his or her as well as his own..... Depending on the personality of the National staffer, the committee runs really smoothly, or roughly, or not at all. This creates problems whereby some committees will have loads of programming and support recommendations and policies, and others are not productive at all. National staffers are "graded" on their ability to "keep the group together and focused" as well as "practical outcomes which will enhance the programs of the BSA". Some policies are immediately put into practice throughout the BSA from the Committee (and it is the professional that "lobbies" on behalf of the committee to get it approved by the Program, Administration, Finance, Council Support or Membership/Relationships Group Director whom has the final responsibility for sending those changes and improvements to "the field"). Those are the ones that come directly to your Council from the Director of the various programs or from the appropriate Group Director. Other policies require changes to the BSA's Rules and Regulations or to the Charter and Bylaws, which is the reason why they have to go before the BSA's National Executive Board. The NEB is composed of between 48 and 52 adult members and three to five youth members. This board meets every other month to discuss and finalize recommendations made by the various Group Directors, their volunteer Committees, or by individual Board members or the Chief Scout Executive. There are seven professionals whom are members of this board: the Chief Scout Executive, the four Regional Directors (whom also serve as Associate Chief Scout Executives), the National Director of Operations and the National Director of Support Services. These professionals do NOT have a vote but they are, as you can guess, very influential in the decision-making ability of this body. The rest of the Board is composed of volunteers whom are key business, industry, civic and religious leaders from all parts of the nation and all walks of life. To keep a youth slant on the actions, the National Chief of the Order of the Arrow, the National Explorer President, and up to three other youth leaders (selected by their peers or through a national competition of some sort) are voting members of the NEB. The Chief Scout Executive serves as the "secretary" to the Board and his or her performance is tied to overall program success. The National Executive Board "hires" and "fires" the CSE and all other national-level senior professionals. Youth boards also make a significant impact on the adoption of national policies and procedures. The Assembly of Chiefs, the section and regional chiefs along with the National Chief and National Vice-Chief of the Order of the Arrow (assisted by two professionals and six adult volunteers) make policy and recommendations for the Order of the Arrow, Scouting's national honor camping society. Finally, the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America serves as the final "stamp of approval" on all significant changes to the program of the BSA. The National Council is composed of at least three representatives from each of the BSA's local Councils: The Council President, Council Commissioner, and one other elected representative. The Council Executive is not a member. Two or more (depending on size of the local Council) volunteers are elected yearly to serve as National Council Representatives, a job that nowadays carries more weight than it used to. The National Council meets as a whole body once a year. As you can probably figure out by all of this, whatever the National Exec Board approves, more than likely will be approved by the National Council after it has already been implemented in their local Councils. This is also the reason why when new programs are announced, SOME local Councils delay implementing it until a national vote is taken on the program change or other issue. Those are the bodies that make up the decision-making ability of the BSA. While we're talking about professional management of various committees and boards, we're also talking about volunteers --you and me-- making up those boards and committees, with a larger say than the professionals and reflecting our Council's make-ups and population. Settummanque! ---------------------------------------------------------------------Subject: Where can I find information on how the BSA is organized? Date: 28 May 1997 Q. Where can I find information on how the BSA is organized, who makes the decisions, that sort of thing? A. There are two entities to the BSA: The BSA traditional Scouting organization and the wholly owned subsidiary: Learning for Life/Exploring. The BSA has a number of publications that contain its organization. All are available to the general public from your nearby Scout = Shop. or by mail see: Where can I get official BSA literature & = catalog? (in the rec.scouting.usa FAQ) Check: The Cub Scout Leader Book and The Troop Committee = Guidebook An on-line official description is available for the traditional Scouting organization at: http://www.bsa.Scouting.org/comm/scoutorg.htm An on-line official description of the Learning for = Life/Exploring is at: http://www.learning-for-life.org More on-line information may be found at: http://www.usscouts.org/gold/bsaorg.html ---------------------------------------------------------------------Subject: I thought the BSA was a camping club, what are the Aims and Mission of the BSA? Date: 11 Jan 1998 Q. I thought the BSA was a camping club, what are the Aims and Mission of the BSA? A. There are two entities to the BSA: The BSA traditional Scouting organization and the wholly owned subsidiary: Learning for Life/Exploring. There are three aims to Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Scouting: Aim I -- To build moral strength and character Aim II -- To foster citizenship Aim III -- To develop fitness These three aims are the bedrock of the American Scouting movement. They represent the long term outcomes we want for every boy. It is the mission of the Boy Scouts of America to serve others by helping to instill values in young people and in other ways prepare them to make ethical choices over their lifetime in achieving their full potential. (BSA Mission Statement) It is the mission of Learning for Life/Exploring to serve others by helping to instill core values in young people and in other ways prepare them to make ethical choices throughout their lives so they can achieve their full potential. "Values are those things that really matter to each of us ... the ideas and beliefs we hold as special. Caring for others, for example, is a value; so is the freedom to express our opinions." ("Ethics in Action", BSA 1990) "Ethics deals with what we believe to be good or bad and with the moral obligations that these beliefs imply. Ethics involves the rules for deciding right and wrong and the code of conduct that is based on our decisions. While there are some things that not everybody sees eye-to-eye with in this area, there are a whole lot more that we do agree about. For example, to steal is wrong, for most of us. So too is physical assault. Most of us don't think it is right to cheat in school; many of us think it is injustice to punish someone who didn't do anything wrong. As an idea, ethics is simple, but the consequences are profound!" ("Developing Ethical Leaders Through Action", 1990) The BSA strives to help enrich the lives of young people and make a difference in the kind of people they become. Since 1910, it has been the mission of the BSA to serve others by helping to install values in young people, to prepare them to make ethical choices over their lifetime and achieve their full potential. Some more references: Maintaining BSA Standards "The Scout Oath and Law are not up for negotiation. Our values are not for sale." Text of this article from Scouting magazine, September 1992. can be found at: http://www.main.org/boyscout/bsastand.htm The Meaning of the Boy Scout Oath Excerpted: page 550-551, "The Boy Scout Handbook", can be found at: http://www.usscouts.org/advance/boyscout/bsoath.html Some resources for instilling values in young people can be found at: http://www.main.org/boyscout/bsaethic.htm http://www.learning-for-life.org/resources.html ---------------------------------------------------------------------Subject: Is the BSA a public or private institution? Date: 4 July 2000 A. There are two entities to the BSA: The BSA traditional Scouting organization and the wholly owned subsidiary: Learning for Life/Exploring. A BSA Scouting unit (Pack, Troop, Post, etc.) is wholly owned and operated by its chartering organization. It is an extension of the chartering organization's youth program, and must comply with any policies or laws the chartering organization must comply with. BSA Councils are autonomous, private, non-profit organizations incorporated within the State they are headquartered. National BSA and GSUSA are private corporations established under Federal law (see US Code 36 Section 1101). The United States Supreme Court ruled in June 2000 that "The Boy Scouts is a private, not-for-profit organization engaged in instilling its system of values in young people." BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA AND MONMOUTH COUNCIL, et al., PETITIONERS v. JAMES DALE For more information, see the question on how the BSA is organized and the question 'Is the BSA, or their affiliates a place of public accommodation or a business establishment?' ---------------------------------------------------------------------Subject: What is the BSA position on homosexuality? Date: 8 Feb 2002 Q. What is the BSA position on homosexuality? A. It should be kept in mind that even though different people will relate the meaning of the BSA policy in different ways, it is important to stress that in Scouting, small groups of parents and community organizations across the country (chartering organizations), with a diversity of ideologies, will continue to choose leaders and in other ways deliver the Scouting program. As a community organization, we trust their judgment and hold all volunteers accountable to the highest standards of behavior. For the the relationship of community organizations and the BSA see: http://www.scouting.org/factsheets/02-507.html "We are an organization that is simply about helping young people = grow into caring, concerned, and responsible citizens. The issue of gay rights is larger than Scouting and is being debated = throughout our society with no immediate end in sight. We must keep our focus on today's young people and not let socio-political debate distract the community from serving children through Scouting." - From a Statment by Indianhead Council, MN http://www.indianhead.org/News/Leadership_2_6_02.htm Current BSA Position Statements are here http://www.scouting.org/excomm/60minutes/index.html http://www.scouting.org/press/020206/resolution.html http://www.scouting.org/excomm/positions/index.html Fiction vs. Fact - A quick reference developed to assist in dispelling commonly found inaccuracies regarding Scouting and the U.S. Supreme Court decision. http://www.scouting.org/excomm/values/fact.html Press Releases February 2002 BSA Board Affirms Traditional Leadership Standards http://www.scouting.org/press/020206/index.html June 28, 2000 Boy Scouts of America Sustained by United States Supreme = Court http://www.scouting.org/press/000628/index.html In Support of Values This message is provided to share some viewpoints about = recent media coverage and to communicate the standards and values of the = Boy Scouts of America. http://www.scouting.org/excomm/60minutes/index.html A collection of resources from the BSA that communicate the values of Scouting - including letters, articles, speeches, quick references, and a bimonthly newsletter. http://www.scouting.org/excomm/values/index.html ---------------------------------------------------------------------Subject: Has the BSA ever asked their membership if they want the Leadership policies? See the BSA publication: 'In Support of Values Research Edition' No. 02-593-1(01) It is online at: http://www.scouting.org/excomm/values/newsletter/0102/index.html ---------------------------------------------------------------------Subject: What is the position of the people who say that it is OK to have gay members in the Boy Scouts of America? A: The following was compiled by a number of people who have taken the position that it is OK to have gay members in the Boy Scouts of America in this group. It is not ment to represent everyone who does not agree with the BSA policy. Question: Doesn't the Bible prohibit homosexuality? Answer: No. Read literally, the Bible says nothing about homosexual orientation, only about sex acts between men. And even there, it only prohibits certain kinds of sex acts, and only to Jews. The relevant passage is Leviticus 18:22 -- "Ve'et zachar lo tishkav mishkevey ishah to'evah hi." (And-(accusative-particle) male don't lay like-you-lay woman "to'evah" that) The word "to'evah" is the same word as in Deut 22:5, which prohibits women from wearing pants: "...ki *toavat* Adonay Eloheycha..." (it's an abomination to the Lord your God) The rabbis interpret this as a prohibition of male-to-male anal intercourse, which they considered to be the only form of "laying a woman" that could be done to a man. Now there are other rabbinical strictures that evolved later, but the Biblical passage refers only to males, only to Jews, and only to anal sex. How do we know this is just to the Jews? Because Leviticus 18, like many other chapters, begins with boilerplate language that says just that: "Vayedaber Adonay el-Moshe lemor Daber el-beney Yisra'el ve'amarta alehem ..." (God spoke to Moses, telling him to Speak to the *Israelites*, and say to *them*:) But aren't these universal sexual morality for everyone? No. Three verses earlier is a sexual rule for heterosexuals that very few non-Jews obey: "Ve'el-ishah benidat tum'atah lo tikrav legalot ervatah" "And do not approach a woman who is taboo from her period; this is a sexual offense". (The taboo is described in Leviticus 15:25ff and covers the time of her menstruation and seven clean days thereafter.) It's hard to see the logic that says that Leviticus 18:22 should apply to everyone, but Leviticus 18:19 shouldn't! Now of course, particular religious denominations have both added restrictions and leniencies to these rules. For instance, most Orthodox rabbis rule that the prohibition of homosexual sex extends to B'nei Noach (everybody). But aside from the fact that there's no reason for the BSA to favor Biblical religions over others, there's certainly no reason to favor the extra restrictions of some denominations or to mock or disparage the leniencies of others! Question: Wasn't it unnecessary for the Scouts to have a policy against homosexuality in the past, since it was against the law, and there was a presumption that scouts and leaders should be law-abiding? Answer: No. Once again, the ambiguous use of the term "homosexuality" to refer both to orientation and to particular sexual acts creates this confusion. The law did not forbid homosexuality, but, like the Bible, only particular sex acts. And most such laws forbade oral and anal sex between opposite-sex partners as well as same-sex partners. Question: But doesn't allowing homosexuals to lead scout troops set a bad example? Why wouldn't they teach by their mere presence that homosexual sex is condoned? Answer: There are two answers. First of all, Boy Scouts hire leaders who do all kinds of things, and provided they don't do them in front of scouts, it's not treated as any kind of endorsement. This would include gamblers, drinkers, smokers, divorced people, and so forth. They are allowed to have their private vices, and even to avow them (e.g. let it be known publically outside of scouting that they are smokers) so long as they don't model them for the boys (e.g. smoking at an event). The fact that this argument is used only for homosexuals smacks of a double standard. Secondly, let us return to the distinction between orientation and sexual behavior. Even if the troop acknowledges that the sexual behavior is wrong (which we have seen in another discussion is not universally held, only in some religions), we are forbidden to presume that a person of homosexual orientation is actually engaging in improper sexual activity. A fortiori, we are forbidden to presume that he is recommending it to the boys. This is both wrong and hypocritical. After all, most unmarried heterosexual men engage in improper sexual activity, and most boys in scouting know or suspect this. Does this mean that we should have a rule banning unmarried men from serving as scout leaders because their presence teaches that premarital sex is proper? Once again, we have a double standard, and also a violation of the basic principle of not stereotyping one's fellow. In fact, this principle *is* not only an American principle, but it is also in the Scout Law and in the Bible. Where in the Scout Law? From A Scout is Friendly, Lowell writes: "... No matter how strange, or how barbarous, or how absurd the conduct of another person may appear, it is the duty of every broad-minded man to put himself in that other's place sufficiently to understand with his own imagination what the other's actions mean from that other's point of view. This breadth of mind is necessary if we want to form true judgements and to be just in interpreting the acts of other people, and it is part of the intelligence of which we have just been speaking as necessary 'to help other people at all times.'" Where in the Bible? Right in the center of Torah. The Book of Leviticus, chapter 19 verse 15 ends with "b'tsedek tishpot amitecha", which means "in righteousness judge your people". This verse is interpreted by the rabbis to mean that you should give people the benefit of the doubt. It is the foundation of the modern presumption of innocence. Here is a summary of the teachings of the Chofetz Chaim (famous commentator on the laws of improper speech, among other things) on that principle: "If one sees a person what said or did something, whether something Bein Adam L'Makom (between man and G-d) or Bein Adam L'chaveiro (between man and fellow man), and it's possible to judge the speech or action favorably and give the benefit of the doubt, if the person is a 'yirei Elokim' (sincerely G-d fearing individual), we are obligated to judge him favorably even if the action in question is more logically interpreted negatively. "If the person is a 'beinoni' (average person) in that he is generally careful to avoid sin yet on occasion falters, and the doubt could be equally interpreted favorably or unfavorably, one is obligated to follow the favorable judgement. This fulfills what our Sages say, that one who jugdes his fellow favorably will receive favorable judgement from G-d; he also upholds the commandment (Lev. 19:15), 'Judge your fellow people righteously.' Even if the speech or action seems more likely to have a negative judgement as its interpretation, it is proper that the matter should be considered a doubt, and not as a definitive, negative evaluation." This principle applies a fortiori to the case where one doesn't see a person say or do anything, but merely learns that he is in some category of people.
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