rac-smct-text-block

Press Room | Facebook | Twitter | DONATE

Jewish Clergy Letter to the Boy Scouts of America

For years the Boy Scouts of America has maintained a policy that excludes gay scouts and scout leaders from its ranks. Later this month the Boy Scouts National Council will consider a proposal to lift the ban on gay youth but uphold its policy of prohibiting LGBT adults from serving in the organization. Every individual, youth and adults, is created in the image of God. Join Jewish clergy nationwide in signing this letter to the Boy Scouts of America that calls for inclusion and equality.

We write as rabbis and cantors to add our voices to the call for the Boy Scouts of America ("BSA") to end the ban on gay scouts and scout leaders. Many of us are former scouts, the parents of scouts or children who aspire to scouting, and admirers of the mission and purpose of the BSA. Each of us, however, opposes the BSA's discriminatory policy that excludes gay scouts and leaders.

The BSA ban causes real harm to gay youths, adults and their families around the country. LGBT youth, and often the children of LGBT parents as well, face alarming amounts of bullying, harassment, discrimination, and – most distressingly – LGBT youth experience significantly higher rates of suicide. These children and their families must not be denied the opportunities to achieve and the structures of support that the Boy Scouts already provide to so many.

The book of Proverbs tells us, "Train up a child in the way the child should go, and even when the child is old, they will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6). For many children across America the Boy Scouts has proven an excellent way of sharing such life lessons and building character. Like the Boy Scouts, our Jewish tradition emphasizes the values of personal responsibility, service to the community and a broader commitment to justice. These values apply equally to gay and straight individuals. Indeed, how can we teach service to a community when that community excludes our friends, family members and neighbors?

We are pleased to hear that the Boy Scouts of America will consider a proposal to end the ban against gay scouts. However, we were deeply troubled to learn that the ban on LGBT scout leaders would remain in place. We believe that each human being is created b’tselem elohim, in the image of God. That stamp of the divine does not change between childhood and adulthood. Indeed, LGBT adults can and do provide exemplary role models for both straight and gay youth.

As Jewish clergy, we urge you to fully lift the BSA's policy of discrimination that currently impacts both children and adults. When that occurs, we look forward to participating again in the worthy work of the BSA.
Optional Member Code


Add me to the following list(s):
  • Weekly Legislative Update - One opportunity to pursue justice each week Congress is in session delivered straight to your inbox
  • Civil Rights/Liberties/LGBT Issues Receive updates about civil rights and liberties, immigration reform, LGBT rights, and more.
  • More Information

    In 2001 the Supreme Court upheld the Boy Scouts of America's right, as an expressive organization, to exclude gay scouts and scout leaders. This month, at a meeting of the Boy Scouts National Council a proposal will be considered to end the ban on gay youth joining the scouts. Unfortunately, the BSA announced its intention to retain its policy of prohibiting LGBT adults from serving in leadership roles in the organization.

    LGBT youth, and often the children of LGBT parents as well, face alarming amounts of bullying, harassment, discrimination, and – most distressingly – LGBT youth experience significantly higher rates of suicide. These children and their families must not be denied the opportunities to achieve and the structures of support that the Boy Scouts already provide to so many.

    At the same time, each human being is created b'tselem elohim, in the image of God. That stamp of the divine does not change between childhood and adulthood. Indeed, LGBT adults can and do provide exemplary role models for both straight and gay youth.

    It is critical that the BSA hear from religious leaders who would support them as they change their exclusionary policy and instead welcome LGBT youth and adults. That is why we are asking rabbis and cantors from across the country to sign this letter urging  the BSA to ensure full equality for LGBT people within its ranks.