Boy Scout survey: Can gay scouts tent with straight scouts?

The Boy Scouts of America is seeking input about a potential change in its policy against allowing openly gay members.

The scouting organization sent out a 13-question survey to its committees, representative of Scouting's members, to engage representatives of Scouting's membership and "listen to their perspectives and concerns."

In February, the group's national executive board postponed a vote on lifting its outright ban on openly homosexual scouts and troop leaders.

According to BSA officials, the group distributes a bi-yearly survey called "The Voice of the Scout."

"The BSA used this survey to add questions about the membership standards policy," officials said.

The surveys go to all leaders, parents, and youth over 14 years of age, officials said.

"The questions about the membership standards policy do not vary and have only been included in the surveys going to adults," BSA officials say.

The questionnaire lays out some very specific questions and scenarios about the BSA's connection with homosexuality.

The survey includes six multiple-choice answers ranging from "totally acceptable" to "totally unacceptable."

"Bob is 15 years old, and the only openly gay Scout in a Boy Scout troop.  Is it acceptable or unacceptable for the troop leader to allow Bob to tent with a heterosexual boy on an overnight camping trip?" one question asks.

Rob Wick, a Charlotte parent whose 8 year-old son is a Cub Scout, is glad the organization is revisiting the issue.

"Can't kick the can down the road too far," he said. "You gotta -- the time is right, I think you gotta make that call."

The survey isn't just about the younger scouts, another question focuses on troop leaders being homosexuals.

"A gay male troop leader, along with another adult leader, is taking a group of boys on a camping trip following the youth protection guidelines of two-deep leadership.  Is it acceptable or unacceptable for the gay adult leader to take adolescent boys on an overnight camping trip?"

But ask Wick how he feels about gay trooper leaders and that's where he falters a bit.

"You caught me here," he admitted. "I don't know that even where I fall on it. I do know for the scouts but not for the overall organization. I don't know. It's a tough call."

Another parent, who didn't want her name used said sexual orientation shouldn't matter.

"It's just really too bad they're making sexual orientation something that they're going to love and take care of everybody unless of course you're different from me," she said.

"We are currently in the "Listening Phase," where the BSA's committees engage key stakeholders for input and develop a summary report," officials said. "The survey results, along with the committee's work, will be put into a larger report and will help inform the officers' work on a resolution regarding membership standards."

Officials say the voting members of the National Council will take action on a resolution at the National Annual Meeting in May 2013.

The BSA says it is reviewing a number of issues and how they will impact the BSA, "including youth, chartered organizations, parents, and financial, fundraising, and legal concerns."

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