Southern Baptist Convention Shuns Gay Youth with BSA Vote

Yesterday the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) approved a resolution condemning the Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) decision to allow openly-gay Scouts, and called for the removal of all pro-equality BSA executives and board leaders. 

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Human Rights Campaign (HRC) president Chad Griffin, who was raised Southern Baptist, called out the SBC resolution as affirming and promoting intolerance, and counter to the Biblical teachings of the Golden Rule.

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“The Southern Baptist Convention is declaring that gay youth should be rejected and ostracised, simply because of how God made them,” said HRC president Chad Griffin.  “As someone who was raised in the Southern Baptist Church, I know firsthand the importance faith has in the lives of young people.  This move by the Southern Baptist Convention will cause deeper divisions within families, and will harm young people who seek church as a place of love and acceptance.  The last thing that kids need – especially LGBT kids – is one more voice telling them they’re not good enough.

“Sadly, the Southern Baptist Convention has taken a position that goes against the central teachings of the Bible and has planted itself firmly on the wrong side of history.  The Church hierarchy should listen to the fair-minded Baptists across the country who lead lives full of love, kindness and compassion.”

Last month 1,400 leaders from the nation’s local BSA Councils voted to end the organisation’s longstanding ban on gay youth.  Several major mental health organisations support lifting the anti-gay ban completely, including for Scout leaders and other adults.

Since the BSA vote took place, many religious denominations have encouraged their members to continue supporting and participating in Scouting, including The Catholic Church and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Earlier this year, the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) sent a letter to the Boy Scouts of America urging the BSA leadership to end the discriminatory nationwide ban.  And for more than a decade, the American Medical Association has called the ban on gay Scouts potentially psychologically traumatising.

HRC’s recent survey of LGBT youth reinforces the need to remove obstacles to full participation in extracurricular activities like the Boy Scouts: 64% of LGBT teens (compared to just 47% of non-LGBT teens) report that they never participate in after school or other recreational activities and only 8% of LGBT youth say they hear positive messages from religious leaders.  The Church needs to be a loving and accepting place for LGBT youth, not a place of fear and shame. Exclusion from Scouting only hurts all young people and is damaging to the overall well-being and sense of community connection among LGBT youth.

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