Melissa Harris Perry
updated 3/14/2013 2:50:45 PM ET 2013-03-14T18:50:45

Of the 13 questions listed, six present scenarios--including overnight camping trips with gay Scouts--that members are asked to deem acceptable or unacceptable.

Two months ahead of the Boy Scouts of America’s national board meeting, the organization’s leadership is polling its members on the possibility of reversing its policy to exclude gay scouts.

But the survey, posted by the New York Times, goes beyond simple “yes” or “no” questions. Of the 13 questions listed, six present scenarios that members are asked to deem acceptable or unacceptable. Examples include:

2. Tom started int he program as a Tiger Cub, and finished every requirement for the Eagle Scout Award at 16 years of age. At his board of review Tom reveals that he is gay. Is it acceptable or unacceptable for the review board to deny his Eagle Scout award based on that admission?

3. Bob is 15 years old, and the only openly gay Scout in a Boy Scout troop. Is it acceptable or unacceptable for the troop leader to allow Bob to tent with a heterosexual boy on an overnight camping trip?

NBC News reports than more than 1.4 million surveys have been emailed to registered volunteers, parents of Scouts, and alumni, and are asking for the surveys to be returned by April 4.

The BSA’s ban on gay scouts and leaders has been the subject of national conversation since the organization’s decision to reaffirm its position last year. The organization revisited the issue last month, but chose to delay a vote until May and, despite recent Quinnipiac polling that shows 55% of Americans say the BSA should drop its ban, is conducting its own poll ahead the vote.

But, as the survey makes the rounds, BSA members are speaking up and bringing the conversation back into the news.

“It’s very hard to fit morality into a pie chart,” Brad Hankins, an Eagle Scout and the national campaign director for Scouts for Equality, told MSNBC in an interview. Scouts for Equality, formed last summer after the BSA’s reaffirmation of its policy, is led by four straight Eagle Scouts who organized in hopes to get the Boy Scouts to reconsider its stance.

Since last summer, Scouts for Equality gathered more than a million signatures in support of reversing the BSA’s ban, but Hankins said it’s been a tough road for the group. “When we went to BSA headquarters in February to deliver the 1.5 million signatures from the American public that we collected over the first half of the campaign, we felt that the BSA was ready to make a decision. The postponement until May was very disappointing, to say the least.”

“It is immoral to discriminate against our gay brothers and sisters in Scouting,” Hankins added, on the catalyst behind Scout for Equality’s actions. “We see what this ban is doing to the public perception of the Boy Scouts of America and we want to help rebuild it.”

Sixteen-year-old Andrew Lama, press secretary for the Equal Scouting Task Force, echoed Hankins’ words in addressing the BSA’s longstanding ban on gay members. “On our uniform, we have a purple patch called the World Scout Emblem that displays am emblem symbolizing the bond of brotherhood,” Lama told “This says that every Scout is a brother…Thousands of boys across the country depend on the BSA for leadership and organization. It’s our youth program, it’s what we do every week, it’s what we swear to. It’s our childhood. We’re not trying to put it in a bad light, we just disagree with this policy.”

Lama said the Equal Scouting Task Force isn’t trying to change the BSA’s ties with religious organizations, which have been cited as being behind the BSA’s commitment to the ban, but rather focus on the importance of LGBT equality.

“It’s unfair that I’m allowed to do something, but my neighbor isn’t,” Lama said.

Along with Scouts for Equality and the Equal Scouting Task Force, several high-profile figures have also openly disagreed with the BSA’s ban on gay members. Musicians Carly Rae Jepsen and Train have pulled out of the BSA’s National Jamboree, held every four years, in protest, and President Obama also recently denounced the ban.

“All these gay Scouts want is the ability to live up to the first tenet of the Scout Law: A Scout is Trustworthy,” Hankins said. “I hope that even supporters of the ban would recognize a preference towards honesty and transparency, over opaqueness.”

In an email, BSA spokesman Deron Smith that the survey “will be put into a larger report and will help inform the officers’ work on a resolution regarding membership standards.”

The National Council of the Boy Scouts of America will meet in Texas from May 22-24, where a vote on the policy is expected.

Video: Dear Boy Scouts: Fully commit to LGBT equality

  1. Closed captioning of: Dear Boy Scouts: Fully commit to LGBT equality

    >>> being married to an eagle scout is a wonderful thing. my husband can make fire in minutes and build a shelter for two with a rock and dried leaves and an armful of sticks and he will recite the boy scout oath for people without being prompted.

    >> on my honor, i will do my best --

    >> i on my honor i will do my best --

    >> -- to do my duty to god and my country --

    >> to do my duty to god and the my country --

    >> and to obey the scout law .

    >> and to obey people at all times.

    >> to keep myself physically strong.

    >> and morally straight.

    >> yes.

    >> it grooms young men to be leaders, and you can imagine my excitement this monday when the boy scouts announced that they may do away with the sexual orientation , sort of. h that is why my letter this week is to boy scout executive wayne brock. dear wayne , it is me, melissa. when i read the first part of the memo saying that you were going to remove the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation . and i was like, yes, getting rid of the discriminatory barrier to allow those who love the boy sk scouts to support the work, and ensure quality of leadership that the great things that the boy scouts have to offer. then i read on. the policy change under discussion would allow the religious, civic or educational organizations that oversee and deliver scouting to determine how to address this issue. the boy scouts would not under any circumstances dictate a position to units, members or parents. under this proposed policy, the bsa would not require any chartered organization to act in ways that are inconsistent with that organization's missions, principles or religious beliefs . come on, wayne . that is one weaken dorsme mendorsement for policy change. instead of making a umbrella policy change, you leave the discretion to the 290 local governing councils and the 260,000 religious groups that sponsor scouting? cle clearly the policy that garnered 1.2 million online signatures was enough to make you say that you might do something, but not fully commit to it. wayne , the boy scouts of america website affirms this, scouting is truly a melting pot . scouts come from all walks of life and all types of family units, and faiths and ethnic groups , and they respect values of groups who encompass the scout laws and enables youth to live and learn as children and enjoy scouting without immersing them in the politics of the day. that is right, wayne . all boys can be helpful, and friendly and courteous and kind and thrifty and irreverent and for that, the boy scouts must welcome gay men and boys. time for you to follow the example of pioneers like dr. michael kahn who in 1991 led the first troop to openly resist your anti-gay policies or maybe follow the lead of other scouts, the girl scouts who have always been all inclusive and leaving the issue of sexual orientation to the girls and their families. that, wayne , is leadership. so instead of punting the ball at next week's meeting when the final policy may be made, you need to make a firmer stance and live up to your oath, because the boys and the future partners in life are counting on you. sincerely, melissa. so right now


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