In a reaffirmation of a statement they gave last month, the LDS (Mormon) Church has released another statement supporting yesterday’s decision by the Boy Scouts of America to allow openly gay youth to participate in the program.
The statement acknowledges the need for the Boy Scouts to address diversity among their ranks, but also places strong emphasis on the church’s policy that—while they recognize some youth are born gay—they do not condone any “homosexual acts.” These “acts” include hand-holding, kissing, and other activities.
The Church’s long-established policy for participation in activities is stated in the basic instructional handbook used by lay leaders of the Church: “young men … who agree to abide by Church standards” are “welcomed warmly and encouraged to participate.” This policy applies to Church-sponsored Scout units. Sexual orientation has not previously been—and is not now—a disqualifying factor for boys who want to join Latter-day Saint Scout troops.
The Salt Lake City based church has also announced that a letter from leaders has been sent to all of their congregations throughout the United States, explaining the Boy Scout’s decision, and reinforcing their policy that gay youth should be welcomed, but expected to abide by the church’s standards.
Yesterday, the Utah Pride Center’s executive director, Valerie Larabee, told us that while she welcomes the change to the scouting program, she is concerned that the ban on gay adults (as leaders or volunteers) remains in effect. According to Larabee, with the ban on gay adults in place, it would mean a gay youth could participate in the scouting program their entire life, but then be asked to leave as soon as they turn 18.