Have some Boy Scouts board members lost their compass?

Reports of recent comments by two board members of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) provide Exhibit A examples of self-serving inclinations and failing to remember which way they (should) face.

The first comes from The Dallas Morning News: 

Two prominent business executives signaled Wednesday that they will work to reconsider the controversial Boy Scout policy that bans openly gay and lesbian adults from being troop leaders, den mothers or youth members.

James Turley, CEO of Ernst & Young, and Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T, both issued statements this week indicating their willingness to use their positions as Boy Scouts of America national officers to revisit the anti-gay policies….

“I support the meaningful work of the Boy Scouts in preparing young people for adventure, leadership, learning and service; however, the membership policy [banning gays and lesbians] is not one I would personally endorse,” Turley said.

Stephenson did not go as far, but he indicated a willingness to raise the gay-lesbian issue to a higher level within Scouting’s inner sanctum. Diversity and inclusion, he said, are part of AT&T’s culture and operations….

Turley and Stephenson sit atop multinational corporations that gay and lesbian advocacy groups have praised for comprehensive policies protecting employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The second is from CBN News Reporter:

In a statement issued by Ernst and Young, Turley said that he will work from within the Boy Scouts as a national board member to help change their policies.

“Ernst & Young is proud to have such a strong record in LBTG inclusiveness. As CEO, I know that having an inclusive culture produces the best results, is the right thing to do for our people, and makes us a better organization,” Turley said….

“As the CEO of AT&T, Randall Stephenson is already doing a lot for the gay community. His company provides non-discrimination protections, healthcare benefits for same-sex partners, and much more for gay employees,” Tyrell said.

“The last thing AT&T wants is to undermine its excellent reputation for supporting LGBT people by failing to support a resolution that would bring equality to the Boys Scouts of America,” he added….

Boy Scout officials had already announced they would examine a resolution that would reverse the policy….

Scout leaders, however, say they don’t expect the resolution to pass. If struck down … supporters say they’re prepared to take legal action.

To the interested observer it seems obvious that Mssrs. Turley and Stephenson are not on the Boy Scouts of America board to advance the commercial objectives and public relations priorities of their respective employers. They are there to exercise leadership in the form of undistracted and uncompromised commitment to the purposes, principles and mission of the Boy Scouts of America. That they are not thus committed but instead have opted to abuse their respective BSA positions of trust to pursue personal and employers’ preferences renders them unqualified to continue. They should resign from the BSA board immediately. They have made their point: they perceive the BSA to be out of step with contemporary social fashion; of modernity. By resigning, their reputation and status as cultural progressives will be assured among those to whom such things matter and the Boy Scouts of America, relieved of the burden of having to pretend their efforts are constructive, will again be able to focus on its primary objective to serve and mentor young people seeking, on the basis of timeless principles, to become healthy, selfless adults: physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.

Without question, the participation of corporate leaders in presiding over Boy Scout organizational bodies is useful and welcome, and the support of major commercial businesses is important to the BSA. However, they can not be allowed to become trump cards in these processes. Young eyes are watching; the BSA is setting an example. Its popularity, especially among corporate titans, is not a high priority. Providing an example of steadfast commitment to principles and principled choices and living is the priority.

If diminished participation by corporate entities and officers accompanies an unswerving commitment to the fundamentals that have informed, inspired and undergirded the marvel that is the Boy Scouts of America for over a century, BSA senior leadership should earnestly be encouraged not to succumb to the notion that they have no alternative but to pander to such entities and expectations. They can scale back, reallocate, reduce and simplify as may be necessary. Further, they should recognize that to surrender to the idea that they must accommodate those importuning for supposed equality by relaxing proscriptions against individuals engaged in homosexual behavior – boys and/or adult leaders – is to abandon any legitimate claim to being committed to “Youth Protection” and safety. It is tantamount to indulging the belief that, in order to clear the mountain he is approaching, an airplane pilot can increase his odds of success by reducing the craft’s weight by jettisoning one of its wings. Notwithstanding this hopeful maneuver, the outcome is predictable.

The Boy Scouts of America has been a vital influence for good in the lives of millions of individuals and in our nation, and has the potential to continue as such. Because that future is in the hands of the full BSA board, if Mr. Turley and Mr. Stephenson do not decide gracefully to resign from their respective roles, the board would exercise wisdom and leadership by inviting them to do so, soon.

While these events are occurring within a private organization, they reflect a potential cultural shift within a previously conservative board – or perhaps members of that board more attuned to pursuing self-serving interests attempting to influence a traditionally conservative board. This matters because culture drives policy. The natural family is and should remain the fundamental unit of society, and in order to preserve it as such, organizations like the Boy Scouts of America should be encouraged steadfastly to maintain the values at the core of their historic and constructive efforts to shape America’s youth.

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