Sexual orientation should not be a bar to membership

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There has been coverage in the media and on social media of the recent decision by the Boy Scouts of America to uphold their ban excluding gay people from membership of that organisation, either as Scouts or leaders.

We would like to restate our own, very different position with regard to this issue within The Scout Association in the UK, through the following statement.

'The Scout Association is aware of the recent decision by the Boy Scouts of America to continue with its ban of gay leaders and members. We have been asked by our own members and leaders here in the UK, and by our wider stakeholders and community, to affirm our own position on this aspect of diversity and inclusivity.

We recognise that each National Scout Organisation within our World Scout Movement is an independent organisation that delivers a programme designed to meet the needs of the communities in the country in which it operates. Those communities will judge the relevance and appropriateness of each organisation's policies by joining or not joining that organisation.

In the UK we have a very clear policy and practice that welcomes adults and young people (boys and girls) irrespective of their sexual orientation. We are proud that we have had this approach in place for many years. We believe that this reflects the needs and wants of the communities in which we operate, and reflects our affirmed view that sexual orientation should not be a bar to membership. We believe that discriminating against an individual simply on the grounds of his or her sexuality is inappropriate, and is contrary to our interpretation of the inclusivity and values of Scouting.

In the UK, our Scout membership has seen significant and sustained growth over the last eight years for young people and for adult volunteers. We have been pleased to support Pride events. We openly and equally welcome LGBT and heterosexual young people, volunteers and supporters who wish to join our Movement. We would hope that as a result of further dialogue and reflection, the Boy Scouts of America would reconsider their position to further serve young people and the wider community.'

Wayne Bulpitt, UK Chief Commissioner and Derek Twine, Chief Executive

July 2012

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