SALT LAKE CITY — The Boy Scouts of America announced revised rules this week to emphasize a duty to God and ban political advocacy, leaving a Utah organizer who applied for a troop with gay leaders wondering if applications like his are targeted.
The changes come at the end of a turbulent year that saw the organization lift a blanket ban on gay leaders.
Restore Our Humanity — which advocated for the legalization of same-sex marriage in Utah — filed an application in September for an LGBT troop. Though he has yet to receive a formal response, director Mark Lawrence said he expects a rejection.
“I don’t think this is what they were expecting. I don’t think they expected a bunch of new charter applications to come,” Lawrence said.
However, a Boy Scouts executive in the scouting stronghold of Utah said the revisions show that the organization’s values remain intact.
The Boy Scouts’ doors are open, but new troop applications must now be approved by a national body, not locally, Great Salt Lake Council Scout Executive Rick Barnes said.
“We’re being very careful on how we do this with charters,” he said. “We want to make sure that organizations are willing to follow our policy.”
Utah is home to the nation’s largest sponsor of Boy Scout units, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
There are about 427,000 boys in Mormon church-sponsored troops, accounting for about 18 percent of all youth Scouts.
Church leaders said they were deeply troubled by the decision to allow gay troop leaders and had considered leaving the organization. They decided to stay after assurances that the organization would allow church-sponsored Scout units to maintain the exclusion for religious reasons, church leaders said.