Boy Scout numbers grow in Utah, defying national trend

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  • Understands Math Lacey, WA
    May 24, 2014 2:33 p.m.

    @Mr. Bean:

    And that's the kind of attitude that keeps gay people in the closet. The stereotype that gays are so sex-mad that they'll go after any male, even (or especially?) if he's straight.

    Needless to say, there's no empirical evidence to support that kind of stereotype.

  • Mr. Bean Phoenix, AZ
    May 23, 2014 9:58 p.m.

    No way would I go camping and sleep in a tent with a gay scout. It'd be like a boy scout sleeping in a girl scout's tent.

  • Schnee Salt Lake City, UT
    May 23, 2014 3:39 p.m.

    "Don't we still live in a country where private citizens can form private groups that are based on shared beliefs and exclusive of others?? "

    Sure, but that doesn't mean they won't be criticized for it like Augusta National.

  • NedGrimley Brigham City, UT
    May 23, 2014 3:36 p.m.

    Laura: "...any number of gay LDS men have said that they were told by their bishops to not come to church anymore."

    Is this anecdotal, or have these "any number of gay LDS men" spoken to you directly, and how long ago was that?

    While I can't say that this may not have ever taken place, I think it is just as fair to say that "any number of gay LDS men" are serving faithfully in a number of LDS church callings around the world without repercussion. And, as attitudes continue to change, probably more so now than ever before.

  • Laura Bilington Maple Valley, WA
    May 23, 2014 1:41 p.m.

    Mack, any number of gay LDS men have said that they were told by their bishops to not come to church anymore. Do you think that this isn't happening? There is no reason to assume that a 15-17 year old boy who was openly gay (let's say he took another boy to the prom, but still wasn't sexually active) would be welcome at an LDS sponsored troop. And he wouldn't be welcome at Trail USA either.

    Lilljemalm, when was the last time you heard of a straight boy (with a pregnant girlfriend) getting kicked out of the Boy Scouts? When a (straight) scoutmaster divorces his wife so he can marry his girlfriend, he gets to stay. Gay youth (and certainly, gay adults) are welcome in the BSA only if they are in the closet.

  • Tiago Seattle, WA
    May 23, 2014 1:34 p.m.

    I guess I don't see how scouting is migrating away from our church standards then. Can you give examples?
    In my ward's troop we still recite the scout oath and law in every meeting and end with a scoutmaster minute focused on a gospel lesson. At scout camp in Washington the prayers in the dining hall are a bit silly and irreverent, but there are daily vespers focused on general religious concepts. I have never heard anyone in scouting advocate against the law of chastity, or against faith, repentance, families, or any other of our values.
    I'm concerned about the message we send to gay people among us when we treat them like a threat and write policies exclusively to exclude them, stigmatize them, and discourage them from being honest.
    On Wednesday night I sat in my church foyer and heard and older man talk for several minutes about how "the gays" are out to destroy scouting and take advantage of young boys. That kind of rhetoric is wrong, hurtful, and divisive. We don't need to characterize gay people as the enemy to maintain our commitment to moral standards.

  • Mack2828 Ft Thomas, KY
    May 23, 2014 12:52 p.m.


    I have looked back over my posts and can't find anywhere where I have even remotely suggested a 15 year old boy with SSA should be kicked out of scouts.
    All of my posts have been encouraging the church to be prepared with a new program (like TrailLife USA, who also doesn't kick out your hypothetical 15 year old) as scouting continues to migrate away from our church standards.

  • Tiago Seattle, WA
    May 23, 2014 12:29 p.m.

    Yes, private organizations like the BSA and churches can discriminate about who is allowed membership. The right of the BSA to exclude gay leaders was upheld by the supreme court in Boy Scouts of America et al. v. Dale. The Daughters of Utah Pioneers requires members to be women and a direct-line descendant or legally adopted direct-line descendant with a pioneer ancestor.
    The question is not whether or not an organization can discriminate, it is whether or not it should. The fact that you think that a 15 year old boy who gets enough guts to tell a few people that he experiences SSA should be kicked out of scouting is what is scary. I was a gay Mormon teenager not too long ago and glad no one kicked me out. I ended up earning my eagle, going on a mission, staying faithful, and have served in many callings in the church. There is no reason to exclude kids who deal with SSA from the full program of the church.

  • morpunkt Glendora, CA
    May 23, 2014 12:09 p.m.

    It sounds like Trail Life USA is the Boy Scout version of the new GOP, recently hijacked by the Evangelical South.

  • Ricardo Carvalho Provo, UT
    May 23, 2014 12:05 p.m.

    It would be interesting to note the demographic growth compared to scout growth in Utah. There were many who predicted that when the BSA openly accepted gay scouts that there would be a mass exodus from Mormon parents pulling their kids out of BSA troops. That has clearly not happened which is a great sign that the LDS membership is coming to grips a step at a time with what it means to enjoy life in an environment where gays have equal rights with others. As a member of the LDS church, I am personally pleased with that reaction.

  • Mack2828 Ft Thomas, KY
    May 23, 2014 12:02 p.m.

    The comments on here about discrimination are startling to me. Don't we still live in a country where private citizens can form private groups that are based on shared beliefs and exclusive of others??

    For instance there is a gym in my town that is exclusively for women. No men allowed. That's fine with me. It's a private group they ought to be able to define their membership standards.
    If you stop and think about it their are hundreds of such groups around our country from all different sides of the political spectrum and belief systems.

    Can a white male congressman be a part of the congressional black caucus? Can a male chauvinist join the national organization of women?

    These shrill talking points about discrimination and equality that have been pounded at us for the past few years are really getting old. Please stop.

  • Seldom Seen Smith Orcutt, CA
    May 23, 2014 11:43 a.m.

    Apparently quantity trumps quality.

  • The Final Word Alpine, UT
    May 23, 2014 11:33 a.m.

    Imagine that..enrollment up in a State with an every expanding number of young kids/youth and population growth.

    Go figure.

  • Laura Bilington Maple Valley, WA
    May 23, 2014 11:33 a.m.

    Mack2828, you might be surprised to know that the BSA is NOT a religious organization. I can easily see why you would get that idea--the LDS sponsored troops to not have any outreach programs to enroll boys in the community so the troops are generally 100% LDS. But four of my sons belonged to LDS sponsored Boy Scout troops--and they were warmly welcomed, and never made to feel that they were token heathens although they were the only non-LDS boys there.

    Save your doctrine lessons for Sunday school and keep your scout troops open to all, believers and nonbelievers. Your promotion of the idea of " a uniquely LDS program that isn't afraid to put God first and teach young men the truth regarding the evils that are raging in society" is, to put it mildly, startling.

    Intolerance and discrimination for those outside your comfort zone is as much an evil as any other, and it "rages" in these Comments.

  • Tiago Seattle, WA
    May 23, 2014 11:23 a.m.

    Thank you Lilljemalm and Mormon Ute for understanding and explaining the church's position. In the LDS church, we do not push away our brothers who experience same-sex attraction. We realize that having those feelings is not a moral failing and not a choice. People who experience SSA, while not advocating for sin, are free to talk about what they feel and be honest with their friends, family, and priesthood leaders without fear of reprisal. People who are open about their SSA hold the priesthood, serve missions, serve in the temple, attend BYU, and yes can be a part of our youth and scouting programs.
    I cannot understand how anyone thinks it would be moral to stigmatize these people and try to to force them out of our organizations because of their sexual orientation. If we want to help them live according to the gospel, we need to love them and include them in the church. This is what the church teaches and I hope all members will get on board.

  • Shane333 Cedar Hills, UT
    May 23, 2014 10:58 a.m.

    It is important to note that the growth of Boy Scout numbers in Utah aren't linked in any way to the BSA's recent policy changes officially allowing gay youth to participate as Scouts. Participation in Utah has increased because of nothing more than demographics within the local LDS communities. There happens to be a lot of LDS youth reaching Scout age, and that's all there is to it.

    As long as the BSA is used as a default youth program by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, youth numbers in the BSA will shift along with the youth demographic shifts among the memberships.

    A few years from now that 4.56% increase in the Utah National Parks Council will reflect a similar increase in LDS missionaries from the same region.

  • Tilka PORTLAND, OR
    May 23, 2014 10:52 a.m.

    The LDS Church should drop scouting. Scouting lost its way a few decades ago when they had instances of enrolling people who didn't exist so that they could get more United way funds. Is there anyone who is happy that they have to donate a huge amount of funds for the friends of scouting fund raising so that the district guys can make 6 figure incomes doing virtually nothing?

    Haven't most of the lawsuits against the church come from Scouting mishaps?

    But as long as the leaders of the church receive scouting's highest honors the church will keep the program.

  • my_two_cents_worth university place, WA
    May 23, 2014 10:50 a.m.

    @Understands Math

    "Why would anyone want to belong to such a group?"

    Indeed. Sadly, I think we know the answer.

  • Understands Math Lacey, WA
    May 23, 2014 10:23 a.m.

    According to the Trail Life USA website, non-Christian religious groups are not allowed to charter organizations. Neither are "non-Trinitarian" Christian groups such as Jehovah's Witnesses and LDS.

    Their very reason for being is to discriminate, not just against gays, but against religions.

    Why would anyone want to belong to such a group?

  • Mack2828 Ft Thomas, KY
    May 23, 2014 10:11 a.m.

    I recognize that scouting hasn't fully left its partnership with the church yet. It has only put one foot out the door. But after having read "Duty" the memoirs of Robert Gates, I'm confident that it won't be long before scouting completely turns it back on morality and probably not much longer after that before it abandons God as well. Don't get me wrong, Mr Gates is a good man overall, but with a lifetime of work in higher education and the federal government he is steeped in the pernicious doctrine of moral relativism.

    I hope as a church we don't sit idly by hoping that the BSA will go back to its glory years. It won't. Unfortunately the iceberg it is sitting on is melting at a startling rate. And after 100 years, that is truly painful to see. But it's real, and we need to get out ahead of it and create something similar to TrailLife USA. It requires courage. But we can do it. Pray for our LDS leaders.

    Think of the boys. They need us to be courageous.

  • Mormon Ute Kaysville, UT
    May 23, 2014 9:22 a.m.

    Let's get behind our Priesthood leaders and enthusiastically support the BSA as they have. Doing so will strengthen both the boys and the program. There is nothing in BSA policy that goes against gospel principles. Boys of BSA ages shouldn't be engaging in any kind of sexual contact anyway so as long as they abide by that rule they should be allowed to participate. Adult leaders who are openly gay cannot, because they are engaging in immoral conduct that violates BSA rules. Let's support this stand and make this organization stronger so it can continue to bless boys across this great land!

  • Sneaky Jimmy Bay Area, CA
    May 23, 2014 9:16 a.m.

    Scouting is declining in areas where there is a lack of adult volunteers and sponsors. The scent of bigotry hasn't helped.

  • Demiurge San Diego, CA
    May 23, 2014 8:38 a.m.

    Scouting is dying most places in the USA with which I am familiar because it has become perceived as an arm of the Mormon Church.

  • samhill Salt Lake City, UT
    May 23, 2014 8:21 a.m.

    I think "Lilljemalm" has it right.

    From comments made by several BSA officials in the last decade or so, it was clear there was an increasing sense of uneasiness among some evangelical BSA members and leadership with the expanding influence by the LDS church on the BSA.

    If the decision by the BSA to include gay scouts had any part of the decision by the former BSA evangelical members to form Trail Life USA, it was primarily that of being the "last straw".

  • Matt9898 Salt lake, UT
    May 23, 2014 8:09 a.m.

    It may be that Utah doesn't have a problem with some of the more troublesome/discriminatory practices and policies of the BSA...on another note, I do hope more training and expertise will be expected of BS leaders in Utah. Over the years, the string of forest fires, search and rescues, vandalism and other costly mayhem caused by the Utah Boy Scouts has resulted in some notoriety amongst other states. Please let's try to do a better job!

  • Lilljemalm Gilbert, AZ
    May 23, 2014 7:25 a.m.

    There is still a lot of misunderstanding regarding the BSA policy. It is simply that a youth with same sex attraction issues can still be a scout, but if a boy participates in immoral activity of any kind or promotes immoral activity, then he's out, without regard to sexual orientation. The Trail USA organization has the same policy. The Trail USA organization was being put together long before the gay issue hit the BSA. Per Trail USA leadership, the real reason behind it is that they wanted an Evangelical Protestant only organization, their chief complaint being that there were too many Mormons in BSA and they didn't want their youth associating with Mormons, Catholics, Jews, Muslims. etc. I got that directly from the Trail USA leadership in conversation with them.

  • Mack2828 Ft Thomas, KY
    May 22, 2014 11:57 p.m.

    Our LDS youth are not able to join TrailLife USA because of our unique beliefs regarding the Trinity. But hopefully our LDS leaders will take a stand and emulate the moral courage that the good men who have formed TrailLife USA have demonstrated. We can do something similar in the church and make it GREAT!!

    No more tired, uninterested scout leaders playing basketball with the boys on Wednesday nights. But energetic priesthood men leading boys in a uniquely LDS program that isn't afraid to put God first and teach young men the truth regarding the evils that are raging in society.

    I know it's not easy to break away from 100 years of tradition. But it's not that the church would leave scouting , it's that scouting is leaving the church.

    Lets do what is best for the boys.