A Message From Our Scout Executive

A Message From Our Scout Executive

I’m writing this less than 24 hours since the BSA issued its recent statement below:

As one of America’s largest youth-serving organizations, the Boy Scouts of America continues to work to bring the benefits of our programs to as many children, families and communities as possible.

“While we offer a number of programs that serve all youth, Cub Scouting and Boy Scouting are specifically designed to meet the needs of boys. For more than 100 years, the Boy Scouts of America, along with schools, youth sports and other youth organizations, have ultimately deferred to the information on an individual’s birth certificate to determine eligibility for our single-gender programs. However, that approach is no longer sufficient as communities and state laws are interpreting gender identity differently, and these laws vary widely from state to state.

“Starting today, we will accept and register youth in the Cub and Boy Scout programs based on the gender identity indicated on the application. Our organization’s local councils will help find units that can provide for the best interest of the child.

“The BSA is committed to identifying program options that will help us truly serve the whole family, and this is an area that we will continue to thoughtfully evaluate to bring the benefits of Scouting to the greatest number of youth possible – all while remaining true to our core values, outlined in the Scout Oath and Law.”

We posted it on our social media site as soon as it was announced, and so far, the Mason-Dixon Service Center is still standing, the world is still turning, and we’re all doing today what we were doing yesterday: attempting to provide the best possible Scouting experience for the youths and families of the Mason-Dixon Council. So what’s changed since yesterday?

Here's what hasn’t changed:

1. “The Mission of the Boy Scouts of America is to prepare young people to make moral and ethical decisions over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law.”

2. Scout Oath: “On My Honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.”

3. Scout Law: “A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent.”

So those things didn’t change, and in fact, haven’t changed during my entire tenure in Scouting, which began in the late 1960’s.

So what did change? The statement above simply says that we will accept the information that families provide on the youth application regarding gender identity, rather than ultimately deferring to the birth certificate. Frankly, I don’t remember ever personally asking to see someone’s birth certificate to verify anything during my professional Scouting tenure, so this isn’t a world-changer for me.

What about privacy issues? Respect for individual privacy has been a key element of Youth Protection Training and a key part of the Scouting program for my entire 23 years as a Scouting professional. The need to respect a youth’s (or adult’s) privacy at all times, in all circumstances, doesn’t change as a result of last night’s announcement. We will continue to do our best to find practical, common-sense solutions to any potential issues arising from the need to protect the right for privacy as we always do.

How does this impact religious organizations who sponsor Scouting? While religious partners will continue to have the right to make decisions based on religious beliefs, we will work with families to find local Scouting units that are the best fit for their children.

The bottom line is simple: We in the Mason-Dixon Council will continue to do our best to provide the best quality Scouting experience to as many youths and families as we can within our service area. That hasn’t changed as a result of yesterday’s announcement and will not change during my tenure as your
Scout Executive.

Those wanting more specific information about the recent BSA announcement can contact BSA directly at PR@scouting.org.

Thanks, and thanks for what each of you do for Scouting!!!

Rob Stone
Scout Executive

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