The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


February 15, 2013

Scouting under attack

It is my privilege to serve as the volunteer president of the Susquehanna Council, Boy Scouts of America. Our council serves all Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and Venture Scouts in Clinton, Lycoming, Northumberland, Snyder, and Union counties. Since its founding in February of 1910, Scouting has instilled classic American values of citizenship, character development, and self-reliance in more than 110 million young men and women. Cub Scouts promise to "Do Their Best" while Boy Scouts pledge "to do their duty to God and country, help other people at all times, and keep themselves physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight." Of the 12 men who have walked on the moon, 11 were Scouts. Over the last 103 years, more than two million young men have worked through the ranks of Tenderfoot, Second Class, First Class, Star and Life, culminating in the achievement of at least 21 merit badges and completion of the legendary "Eagle Service Project," all to become one of the 5 percent of all Scouts who proudly wear the red, white and blue emblem of an Eagle Scout.

Most of Scouting is not done in the public eye. Scouting service projects and skills instruction are not the stuff of reality television. Scouting activities designed to build character and train future leaders are rarely front page news. Few outsiders really know what we do.

In recent years, Scouting has come under some attack for its support of traditional family values. Several years ago, the Supreme Court of the United States determined that the Boy Scouts of America was entitled to set its own membership standards, including a standard which bars membership to any adult who was avowedly gay. In fact, the Boy Scouts have never had any "agenda" on this issue. There are no questions about sexual orientation on any Scout membership application. It is likely that there are today (and have always been) gay Scout volunteers. No one asks and no one brings it up. In my view, wholesome youth activities are not the place for open discussions about adult sexual activities.

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