We are two Eagle Scouts in college and currently registered as adults in Three Fires Council, and Calumet Council respectively. (Both in Illinois)

Ask us anything about the voting process itself or our opinions/knowledge about the membership policies in the Boy Scouts of America.

My buddy's account is 'MrBlurryCam'

PROOF: http://i.imgur.com/uDyzov6.png

Edit: Wow, this blew up! Check out this page for the Boy Scouts of America's official stances / proposed changes to the policy.

Edit2: Obligatory front page edit!

Comments: 1216 • Responses: 69  • Date: 

Transfer_Orbit618 karma

Here's an interesting way to look at it: Given that there are already gay Boy Scouts (who simply keep it secret), then there is good evidence that gay scouts do not pose any sort of problem. If gay scouts created problems, then we would already know about those problems, since there are already gay scouts.

Larrow358 karma


Jamal-Snarles126 karma

Damn. Guy gets gold for u/Transfer_Orbit 's work. What a shame.

EDIT: perfect.

Larrow146 karma


Semiautomatix309 karma

Any discussions surrounding atheism and the BSA? My 7 year old son (a Cub Scout) and I were unceremoniously kicked out in 2010 for being Atheists.

Larrow203 karma

Personally, I am a deist and thus my belief in a non-intervening God allows me to stay a member. If you look at the current scout law "A scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent, you'll notice the first and last points were added by the BSA after it came to America.

Reverence, in terms of religious belief, is not necessary to be a good scout and I don't believe it should bar membership.

Reverence as a concept not pertaining to religion is something I can stand behind.

keytar_gyro166 karma

I disagree. Reverence is absolutely necessary. Religious belief is not, but reverence as a concept covers far more than faith.

Larrow88 karma

True, but it tends to be more of a religious concept, at least from my experience in scouting.

diminutivetom20 karma

Ok, but the fact that it is a requirement? Any thoughts on that?

Larrow43 karma

I haven't heard of any motion to change the policy yet, but I would be in support of allowing people or all faiths or no faith.

seokso44 karma

Depends on the troop. Mine had a number of open atheists, including myself. The only time I ever felt pressure was when I was with OA instead of my troop. When the troop would recite the law, we'd all -not just the atheists- put a loud sarcastic twist on the word 'reverent'. After a few years of that, we got a new very conservative assistant scout master who took offense and made us stop. He also complained about my openly gay friend and harassed him until he quit. I quit then too.

Larrow50 karma

Sorry to hear that, man. ASMs are only supposed to intervene on issues like health and safety, so it was wrong for him to force his beliefs on you and your friend.

A lot of adult leaders have forgotten the meaning of a boy-led troop, which was a huge issue for me as I served in leadership positions like SPL.

seokso17 karma

Well, yeah, but this was just down the road from the council headquarters and being gay is against the policy so.... I was actually the SPL when I quit. I just couldn't take how the whole tone of the troop had suddenly shifted. Basically all the older scouts left at the same time. I don't even think they had anyone left who was over star.

Larrow35 karma

Damn. I went through three troops as a youth - Luckily I found one that was willing to let boys run the troop and do their own thing - even if it meant failing and learning from that experience... Which, if you think about it, is the original intent of the scouting movement.

brad3n26 karma

I was a pronounced atheist starting my junior year, and I was also Senior Patrol Leader, and earned my Eagle Scout rank the next year, and I had no problems. It isn't so much a governed rule than a troop enforced one. We have had one or two gay scouts in our troop, and they left of their own accord, many of the leaders and scouts actually wanted them to stay.

Larrow28 karma

I was never asked about my religious beliefs or sexuality during Scouts, nor did it ever come up in casual conversation. Honestly, being atheist or gay doesn't affect your experience in Scouting and it really should not bar membership.

MrBlurryCam10 karma

As to that I do not know, I am sorry you and your son were kicked out. The way I have understood the religion requirement is "to believe in a higher power." However while I have heard of and seen many inquiries into sexual orientation I haven't seen one regarding religion. How did it come up?

Semiautomatix17 karma

The former committee chairman in our pack (I replaced her) was friends with me on Facebook - she noticed a post I made about my son and I not believing in God and contacted the district who called me out on it. To be fair, they didn't kick me out - they asked me to resign and suggested my son would be better off pursuing a different "extra-curricular" activity.

Larrow25 karma

Honestly, I don't know why so many people are on a vengeance against people who believe in different things than them.

brad3n256 karma

Thank you. Im an Eagle scout from Florida, and my oarents are lesbians. My mother wants t be active in the troop, and would be Scoutmaster except for this rule. Thank you for your support.

Larrow118 karma

No problem! Hopefully she will be able to serve soon!

The_Counter240 karma

This WASN'T a vote, it was a SURVEY. The BSA are only interested in seeing if you agree or disagree with statements about the issue at hand. Its good that you did the participated in the survey, I did the same. Calling it a vote is not the correct terminology and can be misleading. Its still up to the BSA to decide what they are going to do and this SURVEY will help.

Larrow46 karma

This was addressed in an earlier question. Sorry for the confusion.

thatnerdguy62 karma

I've got my Eagle board of review tomorrow evening. I'm glad to know I'll (hopefully) be joining some awesome guys such as yourselves. Thank you so much for taking a stand and wish me luck!

UPDATE: I'm leaving for my BoR now, Will post with news when I return in an hour or two.

UPDATE2: Passed!

Larrow13 karma

Congrats, man! Good luck with your BoR!

Eculc34 karma

Not posting a question, but I'd like to Thank you for what you're doing. One of my close friends in the BSA recently became an Eagle Scout -- and shortly thereafter came out as gay. He was worried about doing so before he received it in fear that he would be rejected for being openly gay, and I'm glad that there are people that recognize this is a problem.

Larrow13 karma

Thanks for the support! Tell your friend congrats!

DancesWithBovine6 karma

So a vote has already taken place. What's next? And was this vote specific to your two councils or are you just saying that those councils had a voice in a larger vote?

Larrow4 karma

From what I understand from my Father (who is involved in district and council levels), each council has a set number of votes based on size that will be used for the national vote.

In my council, I believe the votes are given to members of the Council Board, but I believe individual council bylaws decide how the votes will be distributed.

32a44dd6 karma

BSA is so very late, and still highly resistant, to seeing the issues of gays as civil rights issues, it begs the question of believability, i.e., that BSA will only be interested in doing the very least of what it takes to mute bad press and public relations. What public and prominent steps will be taken, if any, to actively seek out and recruit membership of gays, to invite them into the tent, to be genuinely inclusive, to indicate that the BSA might be sincerely interested in providing positive leadership after deliberately trailing behind for so very long.?

Larrow22 karma

I sincerely doubt any proactive recruitment of gays will ever take place, at least at this point in the process of gay admittance.

The mormons have had a LARGE bloc in the Boy Scouts for a long time, and their strict anti-gay policies are the main cause of the late adoption of gay acceptance.

therealJonThursday5 karma

Eagle scout Denver Colorado troop 324 . This makes me proud

Larrow2 karma


zonda953 karma

As a current life scout I also think that along with letting gay and hopefully atheists in, I think that they should let girls in, yes i am aware of venture scouts but it doesn't seem the same to me at least. When you say that you are an eagle scout you often get lots of respect and I don't think that it is unfair that girls shouldn't get this respect also.

Larrow2 karma

There is the Gold Award, but for some reason it doesn't carry as much significance as Eagle Scout - It should, it too takes a lot of work and dedication to earn!

jacobius863 karma

I am an adult volunteer and an Eagle Scout. From what I hear, at least in Rainbow Council, Illinois, is a majority support for, or at least not against, allowing homosexual scouts and adults to become members. From what I hear from the professional staff, the only council's that are strongly against it are in the bible belt. Also as an atheist, I do hope that they change the requirement to profess a belief in God. I do not make an issue of it, so I do not know how my fellow scouters feel about this particular issue.

Larrow2 karma

I completed and served on staff at NYLT for several years the Rainbow Council Camp! Great Council you guys have down there!

Hropkey3 karma

I live the town over from Ryan Andresen, the scout in California who was denied his Eagle Scout status for being gay, and know a lot of people in his troop. On behalf of us out here: thank you.

Larrow1 karma

Happy to help!

MauledByPorcupines3 karma

Do you have any intuitions about how well this movement is all going to go? Do you think there will be widespread enough support for it to get the policy changed?

Larrow2 karma

It could go either way - personally I believe it will be changed, but there are a lot of people vehemently opposed to the proposed changes.

tomla1343 karma

as a boy scout myself, I haven't ever really had an experience with the (previous) policy, but I would like to ask: what led you to do this? Or: why did you do this?

not that I'm complaining!

Larrow3 karma

We figure it's our duty as scouts to ensure that all men have the right to join a program that we know can significantly enhance a boy's character.

We took the survey since it was emailed to us, and we thought it would be cool to have a discussion about the process itself.

MrBlurryCam3 karma

I have had several experiences with the policy. A good friend of mine had to leave a job he had with a scout council for some years because he was tired of keeping it a secret. I have seen people required to sign documents stating they were not gay in order to keep their membership. Me and my friend (/u/Larrow) are tired of what is actually a great organization living in the social dark ages

tomla1343 karma

I understand. How did you go about changing the policy? Knowing them, it must have been astoundingly hard.

also, I hope the friend decides to rejoin, it really is a good organization, just sometimes seems to be, as you said, "living in the social dark ages."

MrBlurryCam2 karma

Me and Larrow did not initiate this vote. Due to the increasing tension in the organization and pressure from the outside the national office sent out this survey. While many of us have called, signed petitions and sent letters it was not one person that demanded something be done

tomla1342 karma

It was increasing pressure that forced them to initiate the vote? Thank you for participating, and I would also like to thank those who worked behind the scenes.

am I incorrect in assuming that they have been long opposed to this new change?

Larrow2 karma

Personally, I believe scouts in our generation are much more open to allowing all men as our generation tends to be a lot more accepting of gay rights.

The mormons and traditional-value conservatives (which makes up a lot of the older members of Boy Scouts) are the ones who are most opposed to a new policy.

shootingforharvard3 karma

I don't understand the uproar about this at all. BSA is a private organization that has every right to be as religious as it wants to be. If the LGBT community is truly as "accepting" as it says it is, then it should have no problem with the fact that the BSA and a large majority of its memberss "believe" that homosexuality is wrong. You can believe whatever you want; you have every right to.

If a person is truly "tolerant" and "open-minded," they should have no problem with the fundamentalist Christian who, albeit mistakenly, "believes" the Earth is 6,000 years old. Belief does not have to be based in fact; that's why a belief is merely an opinion, AKA the opposite of fact.

While I disagree with the BSA and find nothing wrong with homosexuality, I'm not only annoyed but surprised by the hypocrisy on this site. The LGBT community and its supporters have championed themselves as pioneers of tolerance and acceptance in 21st century society while hypocritically attacking any tenet or notion that disagrees with their own. Tolerance is a two way street, people.

And I know I'll be unceremoniously down-voted for what I thought to be a well thought-out and reasonable response, but that will just prove the overwhelming hypocrisy present on this site.

EDIT: Reddit, you did not fail to disappoint. Downvotes. Cheers!

Larrow1 karma

My main gripe is that the BSA in itself is not inherently religious. Sure, you have to believe in a God to join, but there are religions that accept homosexuality. So, who gets to set the rules, the morals? The majority?

All_Your_Base3 karma

How is the organization planning to address the issues of sleeping arrangements in tents, field showers, that sort of thing?

If you disagree, what is your alternate solution?

Larrow13 karma

That was a question asked during the survey.

During my time as a youth in Scouts, I knew several gay scouts and as a heterosexual, never had any problem interacting with my fellow scouts. Sharing a tent is no different than sharing a tent with a straight guy, and showers that did not have individual booths were few and far between.

The only issue I can really think of is if two gay scouts/leaders that are in a relationship that are tenting together. In the Venturing program of scouts (which is co-ed), guys and girls are not allowed to tent together generally for this reason. In addition, even married heterosexual couples are not allowed to tent together. I generally agree with the policy of keeping actual sexual relations out of Boy Scouts, because that's clearly not one of the goals of the program.

All_Your_Base6 karma

Let me preface by saying that I am not in scouts. I have no family members in scouts, and sexual orientation of others doesn't really bother me. I just don't see how there is any solution that won't be unfair to at least one group. I'm just asking and learning.

In the venturing program, are guys and gals who are not couples allowed to tent together? If not, then why would gay be allowed to tent with either gay or straight? You're putting together those who have a possibility to be sexually attracted. Either all should be able or none. Unless it is all, I see it being unfair to someone.

It's is going to put a strain on honor (and when is honor ever easy?), and I foresee problems occurring.

Turn it all the way around -- Having a gay male in a tent full of straight males would be (almost, I guess) the same as a straight male being in tent of lesbians. I don't see either situation where there would not be some temptation or reaction.

Other than the long process of everyone being equal (for example, see the shower scene in Starship Troopers) I see this as a rough road ahead with plenty of potholes.

Larrow3 karma

Guys and girls are, under no circumstances, allowed to tent together.

Which is exactly why this is such a difficult question to answer.

All_Your_Base5 karma

Exactly why I am questioning. If that is the case, then it should either be reversed, or gays should fall under the same rule for the same reason(s). I am definitely not a fan of segregation, but I'm seeing few choices where it under the rules it either has to be implemented or completely eliminated.

Personal solution: Eliminate both the girl scouts and the boy scouts. There should only be "Scouts." It would rough, but after a couple generations of equality regardless of sex or orientation, then the only problems are going be individual, not policy.

Beats me if it would work, but I'll argue it over a beer.

Larrow7 karma

It's 'Scouts' in nearly all other parts of the world, lol.

Getpucked3 karma

Just to be clear, are you suggesting segregation of Sexual orientation?

Are you really that frightened?

Larrow9 karma

It would be a difficult thing dealing with relationships as I assume if gay scouts in a relationship are allowed to tent together, straight scouts will want to tent with their girlfriends! lol

Th3Doubl3D2 karma

Hey! I'm an Eagle Scout from Three Fires Council! Upvote!

Larrow1 karma


Louisiana_Gent2 karma

Eagle Scout here - where did you vote?

Larrow1 karma

It should have been sent to you in an email if you're an active member.

LincolnSt2 karma

When does the subject come up? I'm an eagle scout, I know gay eagle scouts, I know atheist eagle scouts...

... I'm curious where these troops are that ask?

Larrow1 karma

I'm not sure that any troops openly ask - I think it's more of an issue when scouts/scouters speak up about their beliefs/orientations that the problems occur.

I went from a tiger cub to an Eagle Scout and was not asked about either my religious beliefs or sexual orientation at any time, so it clearly doesn't have any effect on the program.

J_for_Jules2 karma

Have you considered sending your Eagle badges/medals back?

MrBlurryCam22 karma

No. I earned that medal. It wasn't easy, and it still means a lot to me. While I disagree with national policy becoming an Eagle Scout was a major milestone in my life. Sending a medal back doesn't make you "not an eagle scout" you just sent your medal back. Filling out the survey and campaigning publicly are the ways change are made, National's couldn't care less that you sent it back

theredeffect12 karma

Thanks for echoing my sentiments. I spent 12 years of my life working to get to my Eagle rank and nothing will ever make me send my medal back. I learned more about myself and the world during my time in BSA and none of it ever had even the slightest tone of hate or intention to segregate based on sexual orientation or religion. It was me learning how to be a man and to live with purpose. Nothing. Absolutely nothing can ever take that from me and I am 100% a better man today because of it.

Larrow3 karma


Larrow11 karma

Keeping our voices heard and voting accordingly seems to be more effective than sending our medals back.

Aquahawk9112 karma

What did you guys do for your eagle projects? Any advice for future eagle scouts?

Larrow5 karma

I removed invasive species from an arboretum; as for advice, work hard, get your merit badges out of the way, and always try to be productive during meetings and outings!

PrimaFide2 karma

Eagle Scout here. I have a question that has always bugged me, but I never got an answer for it. Can Troops, say, have a designated "religion" based on the Church they are affiliated with? Whenever I met any Mormon Scouts, ALL of their members were Mormons, and obviously that changes the Troop dynamics and discussions a bit, I think. My Troop meets at a Methodist church, but that doesn't change anything for us.

Larrow0 karma

I'm not sure of the specifics - I've never seen any other troops other than mormon troops that don't contain a variety of faiths. From what I understand, their use of the program is a bit different - to what extent, I couldn't tell you.

I was in a Catholic-chartered troop, a Presbyterian-chartered troop, and a homeowner's association-chartered troop, and they all contained several different beliefs.

PrimaFide2 karma

Okay, Thank you! BTW, with what I read online, only leaders can fill out this survey. I was looking on the BSA website to see if I could do it, but it wasnt there.

Larrow1 karma

Makes sense, we're both registered as ASMs, I believe, so that may be why we're able to vote.

mkwu2 karma

Just wondering: how do they prove someone is gay or atheist, in order to kick them out? I quit boy scouts just because I didn't think it was fun, and that was long before I knew I couldn't be gay and participate-its not like anyone ever asked me thoug.

Larrow1 karma

As I said before, no one really would ever directly ask you. The only causes I've heard were when people were vocal about their beliefs/orientation.

ActionWaters2 karma

Favorite badge you got?

Larrow5 karma

Scuba Diving / Photography! I've been diving and shooting for about as long as I've been in scouts!

Rat_of_NIMHrod2 karma

That is awesome but aren't the Scouts "owned" by the Mormon church?

Larrow3 karma

They're the biggest by denomination, but not a majority.

1dontpanic2 karma

Do you think this policy will hurt, help, or not effect future recruitment in scouting?

Larrow7 karma

If people are THAT opposed to gays joining and don't decide to become a scout/scouter because of a new policy, I figure they're probably not worth having in the program anyway due to their closemindedness.

1dontpanic2 karma

I was more leaning towards the parents not allowing their children to join.

Larrow6 karma

That would certainly be a shame. I guess we will have to wait until society realizes that interacting with homosexuals isn't evil or immoral.

malfunct2 karma

I recently received and completed the poll the BSA sent out asking my opinion on changing the sexual orientation requirements. Do you know who received this survey and how the results are being used?

Larrow2 karma

Will talk to some higher-ups I know and try to get an answer. As of this point, it just seems like a preliminary poll to gauge leader's feelings about the issue.

LoquaciousMime2 karma

Former Eagle here, good work gents! I'm proud to still call men like you my brothers.

Larrow1 karma

Once an Eagle, always an Eagle!

LoquaciousMime3 karma

Perhaps, though I did return my awards to the BSA and renounce my status because of this issue.

Larrow1 karma

Well, just remember everything else you learned along the way and hopefully this issue will be resolved soon!

LoquaciousMime5 karma

Absolutely! Fortunately, some of us learned that "morally straight" means "don't be a dick," not "don't be gay, sparky. Don't be gay."

Larrow4 karma

Morally Straight ≠ Sexually Straight

netsrak2 karma

Would you consider setting up a petition to send to all the Eagle Scouts in the country. I am from the Middle Tennessee council and many of the older leaders oppose changing it.

Larrow1 karma

Well, I'm not sure if our status at Eagle Scouts really gives us any more say over all other members of Scouts, but I would certainly sign a petition.

netsrak3 karma

But it does carry a greater impact because (in my opinion) it implies that we enjoyed scouts enough to push through to something greater than just enjoying it. We WORKED to attain the rank of Eagle Scout. Something that a very low percent of scouts achieve (just over 2% of scouts have achieved Eagle Scout since 1911).

Larrow1 karma

I agree, but I think acceptance needs to be organization-wide. If my status as an Eagle will help serve as a catalyst for that to happen, then by all means I would support a petition.

Mcdubble2 karma

life scout here, I am an atheist, and when I go before the eagle board and they ask something about religion, how should I react? I don't get the feeling that the BSA likes atheists yet.

Larrow2 karma

They shouldn't, and they didn't ask me during mine. If they do, I would just say that's your personal business and you don't like sharing your faith with others.

WesP2 karma

What were some of the arguments in opposition to the change?

I imagine tradition, founding principles, and the "they can start their own club with homosexuality and atheism" arguments. Please enlighten and thanks for the AMA.

Larrow4 karma

That's about it. Like I said in other posts, the mormon opposition to homosexuals has been the largest hindrance to gay acceptance. LDS scouts are such a large part of the organization and have threatened to split off from Boy Scouts and form their own organization, which would form a large schism in funding and program content.

Criscololo2 karma

I would like to mention, as a faithful and active Mormon, that not everyone of my religion believes that homosexuals shouldn't be allowed. I am very much for the open acceptance of gay scouts and leaders everywhere.

Larrow0 karma

Well, that's going against a large percentage of your church - It's good to hear there are open-minded mormons!

WesP2 karma

I see and thanks for the reply btw.

On an unrelated note - Who is your favorite Eagle Scout in history?

Larrow3 karma

The Astronauts - It's pretty cool that 11 out of 12 men who walked on the moon were involved in scouting.

MrBlurryCam3 karma

The Churches give us a ton of money. In fact one religious organization has their own version of scouting (The Mormons). The people on the national board did not want to upset one of the largest contributors to their programs. While I wish it didn't have to be that way, the scouts need money to do what we do. Because they have their own spin off it would seem likely that the sexual orientation policies will still exist within their organization.

Larrow2 karma

Almost all chartering organizations are faith-related, which is different than the rest of the world and girl scouts. I wish it wasn't this way, but it's been standard setup since the BSA originated.

CMacNally2 karma

I don't really have a question, just saying hello as a fellow Eagle!

Larrow1 karma


Fenrils2 karma

Hey there and thanks for the AMA! Fellow Eagle Scout here from Troop 309, Riverside District :) Got mine back in 2007 when I was 14 and am glad beyond belief just how involved in Scouting I was, especially given that it was a part of my life since being Bear scout. My brother received his Eagle a month or so ago at the age of 16 and my family is just as proud of that. My dad was a Scoutmaster for 5 years and is currently an Assistant Scoutmaster due to his involvement in a Crew requiring a bit of his time.

Why do I mention all this? I have had to keep my lack of religious beliefs under wraps until I was out because I would risk losing everything should any higher ups not approve of Atheism. I am glad to see at least some of a push to allow for homosexuality and Boy Scouts and can only hope that more and more tolerance be allowed in this otherwise fantastic program. I would not be the person I am today without Scouting and would love nothing more than to have as many people as possible be allowed to at least give it a shot.

As for a question, how long do you see this process or push lasting? As in, how strong is the force opposing a change in sexual orientation requirements? What about religious belief requirements?

Larrow2 karma

It's up in the air - It seems that the BSA is pushing to allow individual units decide on membership requirements. Likely that is what will be voted on in May. As for total national acceptance, hopefully within the next few years.

The force opposing change is quite large. Probably in the vicinity of 40-50%.

As for religious beliefs, I guess it remains to be seen if enough people can be motivated to call for acceptance of all beliefs.

mozilla20122 karma

Eagle scout here.
Where do I vote?

Larrow1 karma

You need to be a registered volunteer / leader.

jpat1612 karma

I wish you luck in these endeavors and wanted to let you know I'm with you. My question is why are you fighting for this?

Larrow3 karma

Because equality is something everyone deserves.

notverymanly1 karma

Any word on acceptance of trans guys?

Larrow2 karma

I'm not totally sure of transgender policy of Scouting. I'll let you know if I hear anything about it.

ScumbagPope0 karma

How can you, in good conscience, remain a part of the BSA? I left at 17 when I realized that I as an atheist and my close friend as a closeted homosexual were not welcome. By participating in the organization, are you not complicit in its discrimination?

If Scouts did the right thing and sent their badges to BSA headquarters and quit in droves, the policy would change overnight. The only reason this vote is being held is because the membership hasn't made a stand. This vote is being demanded by those on the outside who have left or have never been in the Scouts. Honestly, how can you justify remaining a part of that organization?

Larrow1 karma

We addressed this in another question.

sneakykangaroo-6 karma

Eagle Scout from the Northern Star Council (Minnesota) here. With all of the abuse and molestation and pedophilia that turns up in scouting, wouldn't opening up the sexual orientation increase those terrible incidents. The social norm for so many years that being straight sexually is apart of being morally straight. Scouting was set up to increase the morals, the Oath has the line "...to do my best, to do my duty to God, and my Country."

Larrow8 karma

Uh, you need to check out your definitions of homosexuality and pedophilia.

There's a difference between consenting adults who are gay and people who force underage boys to have sex with them. Pedophilia is wrong on so many levels, but I think it's difficult to correlate homosexuality and pedophilia; they are unrelated.