SALT LAKE CITY — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a statement Thursday saying it is satisfied with the Boy Scouts of America's proposed policy compromise on gay Scouts. That proposal would allow gay Scouts — but not gay Scout leaders — to participate fully in Scouting programs.
"While the church has not launched any campaign either to effect or prevent a policy change we have followed the discussion," the statement noted, adding that LDS officials "are satisfied that BSA has made a thoughtful, good-faith effort to address issues that, as they have said, remain 'among the most complex and challenging issues facing the BSA and society today."
"The current BSA proposal constructively addresses a number of important issues that have been part of the on-going dialogue including consistent standards for all BSA partners, recognition that Scouting exists to serve and benefit youth rather than Scout leaders, a single standard of moral purity for youth in the program, and a renewed emphasis for Scouts to honor their duty to God."
The statement concluded with an expression of gratitude to BSA "for their careful consideration of these issues. We appreciate the positive things contained in this current proposal that will help build and strengthen the moral character and leadership skills of youth as we work together in the future.'"
The LDS Church is the largest sponsor of Scouting, with more than 430,000 Scouts currently registered in various Scouting programs. According BSA statistics, 38 percent of all BSA Scouting units are affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The statement comes in the wake of three months of speculation and controversy based on the BSA's late January announcement that it was considering eliminating the organization's membership policy prohibiting participation by gay Scouts or Scout leaders. The BSA National Executive Board decided not to decide on the proposal during its early February meetings. Instead, the board said it would hear input on the proposal from chartered Scout organizations and sponsors before a proposal was submitted to the meeting of the BSA National Council in May.
Earlier this month the BSA began to circulate the language of a proposed resolution that many feel is a compromise between those who want to completely eliminate current policy restrictions and those who want to maintain the existing policy. According to the BSA website, the resolution would "remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone and would maintain the current membership policy for all adult leaders of the Boy Scouts of America."
National Scout officials said the resolution reinforces "that Scouting is a youth program and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting."
The resolution will be voted upon during the BSA National Council meeting in Grapevine, Texas, May 22-24.
Contributing: Jed Boal