Church Sticks with Boys

Church Sticks with BoysAs Dave Banack wrote yesterday, in spite of some public huffing and puffing, the church has decided to continue the relationship with the Boy Scouts of America. They have also decided to continue to seem unaware that the first word in the organization’s title makes it gender-exclusive.

With equal concern for the substantial number of youth who live outside the United States and Canada, the Church will continue to evaluate and refine program options that better meet its global needs.

The correct wording should be “with equal concern for the substantial number of male youth who live outside the United States and Canada.”

The powers that be, again, haven’t noticed that it’s not “youth who live outside the United States and Canada” who don’t have access to scouting. It’s male youth who live outside the United States and Canada and female youth from every corner of the globe.

In other words, there are far more female youth without the resources, infrastructure, incentives, support, and awards than there are male youth. But the “equal concern” being offered “the substantial number of youth” just isn’t very equal.

34 comments for “Church Sticks with Boys

  1. I encourage everyone to donate to the YW’s programs in your wards. Donate the same amount you traditionally donate to the Friends of Scouting. Donate money to the YW even if you do not support FOS. But I would never want the tedious BSA awards and ranks program in the YW. I make donations to both the YM and YW budgets in my ward. I do not support BSA.

  2. Unfortunately, men have always been, and will continue to be, the default in the church. Women are other, ‘auxiliary’. We’ve got so far go to; we take one tiny baby step forward and then giant leaps backward. It’s so depressing.

  3. Unfortunately, Segullah, the Church Handbook 1 explicitly prohibits members from contributing funds to unit budgets. YM and YW budgets are supposed to be more of less equal, and they probably usually are, but then Scouting throws a wrench into this, because so much of the funding is “non-budget”.

  4. Thanks, Alison. Amen.

    There is something strange about the church’s statement that it has “equal concern for the substantial number of youth who live outside the United States and Canada” in relation to scouting. It seems that in Mormon parlance in the US, scouting always evokes a male program, but that is not the normal situation — not in the U.S. and certainly not around the world.

    In Belgium most scouting groups are mixed and have been so for decades. In the 1980s, when I was district president, we organized Mormon scouting, fully mixed. We didn’t even consider that it could be otherwise. Our troop was part of a national scouts federation which included boys and girls. When my family moved to Utah, it was a shock to discover that scouting in the ward was limited to boys.

    So I wonder to what extent the church in its planned evaluation of youth programs worldwide will consider the reality of the scouting program in other countries and the relation to national scouting federations. Further isolation and gender-biased approaches? Or an active program of integration and cooperation with others? Without the latter, Mormon youth programs, with or without scouting, will foster even more “separation from the world” and scary fundamentalization — a phenomenon which I see growing among the adolescents and young adults who remain active.

  5. ““Fundamentalization” — an ugly word, but it fits.”

    Sorry. I don’t see it. But then, I live in the cosmopolitan world of south eastern Virginia.

    Allison: FWIW, I think that the exclusion of YW from the BSA is a feature not a bug. Would that we could exclude LDS YM from the BSA as well.

  6. By my reading, the term “youth” in the statement refers to both genders. The BSA has units of both genders, and any discussion of the international program HAS to involve both genders (since both the current LDS youth programs and the available non-LDS scouting alternatives are more gender symmetric worldwide than they are in the US and Canada).

    I suspect that the statement avoids more explicitly addressing the “why boy scouts and not girl scouts in US/Canada” issue for good reason. If the statement explicitly said, “We’re also looking for something better for our girls,” the BSA might say, “Okay, maybe we can expand BSA to do more with girls,” and the church would have to admit that, in fact, not many YW leaders actually want to join BSA.

  7. Yeah, fundamentalization. Everyone knows Mauss’s assimilation and retrenchment model, which most people find helpful for understanding the shifts in LDS relations with The World over the course of the 20th century and into the 21st. “Fundamentalization” seems like a good word to describe the current retrenchment cycle.

  8. It was not my intention to shift the discussion to fundamentalization. But, yes, Nate (7), it is a phenomenon with its own characteristics, It’s pretty well-definable but it needs to be clarified. Allow me to refer to my article on the topic (see the part on the scale of attitudes in church approaches in six perspectives – in which “antagonistic isolation” represents the fundamentalist position). Next, in particular, the section “The Antonymy Factor: Toward Fundamentalism?”

    To bring it back to the topic: I think fundamentalization leads to reinforcing Mormon male-female stereotypes.

  9. Allison – I think there is probably a much more charitable (and accurate) way of interpreting this.

  10. Nate, a comment about getting rid of young men in Scouting sounds an awful lot like comments about why would gay men want to get shackled in marriage anyways, amirite guys? *high fives all around

    Allison seems to have struck upon a legitimate criticism in both the laziness of the language used and the exclusion of young women generally. Employing one’s on personal distaste for scouting seems only like a way to minimize the exclusion women feel.

  11. As a father of three daughters I’m sensitive to issues associated with gender equality in the Church and I try to stay up to speed on them on this and other blogs. I don’t know how it works in every ward or branch, and it certainly may vary from year to year, but I know from the calling I was in that in our ward in Texas last year, the biggest single item our ward budget for the year was Girls’ Camp. It wasn’t really even close, and we have roughly the same number of young men as young women. The boy scout and cub scout budgets for the year were much collectively less than the young women’s budget for the year. The overall young men, priests quorum and high priests group budgets collectively were much, much smaller than the Relief Society and Young Women budgets. I was frankly quity surprised by this. I know that is just a small anecdote from one ward in Texas and it certainly doesn’t resolve this issue or address any real or perceived inequities, but I did want to point out that dollars-wise, at the ward budget level in one ward in Texas at least, the dollars allocated to the women’s auxiliaries greatly exceeded the dollars allocated to male auxiliaries. Again, I found this outcome to be different from what I expected and perhaps the type of information that would be helpful in these discussions.

  12. “At this time, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will go forward as a chartering organization of BSA, and as in the past, will appoint Scout leaders and volunteers who uphold and exemplify Church doctrine, values, and standards.

    “With equal concern for the substantial number of youth who live outside the United States and Canada, the Church will continue to evaluate and refine program options that better meet its global needs.”

    At this time? Continue to evaluate? That is hardly an enthusiastic, long-term commitment!

  13. Adam, that’s a good point—outside of the Utah-Idaho-Arizona corridor, things are probably very different, so it’s nice to get that perspective. It sounds like internationally, youth programs are also a lot more equivalent.

    In Utah, at least, stakes and wards usually own the land and facilities for Girls’ Camp, which probably helps bring the costs down substantially. Since Boy Scouts is nationwide, cost related to that are probably more uniform.

    And honestly, I think individual wards probably have a lot of discretion. Even despite what Handbooks do or don’t say, I have known a lot of bishoprics that just aren’t familiar with them. A lot of people don’t like this unevenness, especially when it comes to discipline, but I’m honestly a big fan of it, since it allows wards to follow the inspiration of the Spirit, if they choose to.

    As for the statement itself, I didn’t have a problem with it. The beginning of the statement makes explicit that the Boy Scouts is about helping young men and boys, and so for me throughout the rest of the article it is implicit that the youth being talked about have already been qualified as only male youth.

    Here’s how the statement begins:

    “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints appreciates the positive contributions Scouting has made over the years to thousands of its young men and boys and to thousands of other youth.”

    To me, this is just an example of something written with proper professional succinctness: at the first mention of something, you define it with specificity and exactness (here done with “thousands of its young men and boys”), and thereafter use shorter appellations (“youth,” which is used later in the same sentence) to save space. For the rest of the statement, “youth” is a sensible shorter substitute for “young men and boys,” and continuing to add male is redundant and unnecessary.

    Sorry to disagree.

  14. George S (#4),

    With the Bishop’s permission, BSA, YM and YW groups may hold fundraisers for activities. Camp fees may be collected and donations made to help disadvantaged youth. At the ward level, a budget subcategory is created in the “other” account for these funds. There is no need for youth organizations to ever be underfunded.

  15. Saddened that this issue has become an excuse to complain and criticize, I observe that I was eagerly waiting for a decision from Church Leaders. I was prepared to follow their counsel, and would have been happy with either continuing our BSA program as before, or forging out on our own. Regardless of how I choose to so carefully parse the wording, or to subvert the course of discussion in the public square, my understanding is that the decision about the future of Scouting in the Church was not mine to make. The option that was mine was whether or not to continue to sustain and support my Church Leaders. I used to believe this was a forum where such beliefs were still tolerated, despite murmurs and popular protests being staged around the Bloggernacle. Apparently not so.

    I am not planning to withhold my traditional donation to Friends of Scouting. My bishop sent an email this week to ward members advising about the Church’s continuing commitment to the BSA programs. I will support this counsel with my best effort. As an avowed disciple of Jesus Christ, I humbly strive to do my part.

    I have similar misgivings about speculation regarding appointments to fill vacancies in the First Councils of the Church. It is not my place to nominate candidates, or to advocate for a more progressive agenda. My responsibility within the Church is and remains, to sustain the Brethren and support Church Leaders. I have made covenants with my Heavenly Father to do so. I hold implicit faith that He will fulfil His part of the covenant as I am faithful to mine.

  16. The correct wording should be “with equal concern for the substantial number of male youth who live outside the United States and Canada.”

    Matthew 7:3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

  17. Suleyman (#16): Yes, fundraising, but per the Handbook this too is strictly limited to ONE fundraiser for ONE event, such as a camp. I’m sure many units don’t follow the policy on this. My point, though, is that members cannot simply “donate to the YW’s programs in your wards”, as was suggested. It has to be related to the one fundraiser and used for the one purpose.

  18. And note that per Handbook 2 section 13.6.8, the Friends of Scouting fund drive is exempt from the regular rules of fundraising. There is no way that a single YW fundraiser is going to raise as much money as the single YM fundraiser PLUS the Friends of Scouting fund drive! And members can’t just make dontaions to YW out of the blue, but they ARE able to do so with donations to Friends of Scouting.

  19. jcobabe, you’re being a bit silly, don’t you think? The vast majority of posts here at Times and Seasons are conservative viewpoints that support the maintenance of things as they currently are in the church. Occasionally someone has a different viewpoint that she or he chooses to express, as has happened here.

    You speak of how you used to believe this was a place where your beliefs were tolerated, but ironically seem to really be saying that this used to be a place where any beliefs besides yours weren’t tolerated, and that you wish it would return to being that way.

    You’re casting yourself as a victim because you cannot exclude and oppress the views of others, which seems to be a strange thing to do.

    Why do you feel you need this?

    Why do you feel threatened by disagreement? Why are you so afraid of being subverted to some other view if you are so sure yours is right? Who is persecuting you? How are you being visibly harmed by what Alison or anyone else is saying?

    And are you “humbly striving to do [your] part” when you go around trumpeting your perceived superior righteousness to those around you? Ironically, is it every humble to say you’re doing something humbly? :)

    Did you make covenants to mourn with those that mourn? If you cannot understand another’s grievances, how are you supposed to mourn with her? If another is not free to express how she is being hurt, how is she supposed to mourn herself?

    It seems like that is the real thing you’re suggesting: make it so no one can mourn, so you don’t have to fulfill your obligation to mourn along with them.

    What part of being an “avowed disciple” of Jesus Christ is that? Are you taking His name in vain?

  20. jcobabe–“…thou hast elected us that we shall be saved,whilst all around us are elected to be cast by thy wrath down to hell..and we thank thee that we are a chosen and holy people”…their hearts were lifted up unto great boasting, in their pride.”
    “After Alma and his brethren… had heard these prayers , they were astonished beyond all measure.”

  21. George S #4 and Suleyman #16 — We tried donating to the YW’s program in a former ward. In July, the bishop accepted our donation. In December, the new bishop said we couldn’t. He could either give the donation back to us or it could be a donation to the general fund without going to YW. Leadership roullette.

  22. To be forthcoming, I should be clear that in reference to donations to BSA and other enterprise, I intended to confess that my means are rather humble. I fully recognize that nobody depends on my token donations to sustain anything. I consider my “mites” to be more of a personal expression than any significant financial support.

    I am ever impressed with the energy of those who jump the shark with such enthusiasm, but the rant against my profession of humility totally missed the mark.

    I would generally prefer to compare my comments to Boyd K. Packers talks, rather than the Zoramites. His sermons were controversial. The Zoramites all recited the same words and thought the same politically correct thoughts. Sorta like Smith’s rote recitation. And most of the posts in today’s Bloggernacle.

    I suspect those who actually study the Holy Scriptures and the teachings of Church leaders might agree.

  23. I just want to point out that RS budgets cover a whole bunch of compassionate service projects and activities for the whole ward. Didn’t want anyone to think that the womenz are eating expensive bon-bons and living the high life on church funds.
    Also, I wish the church would rip off the BSA (’cause we don’t do it like the rest of the BSA does it anyway) band aid and just present the gender- equitable world -wide youth program the unnamed sources keep insisting is sitting in a drawer, waiting for the right time.
    Just like my then future Mother-in-law told my now husband, “Hells Bells! Either ask the girl to marry you or quit talking about her!”

  24. To Segullah #1, George S #4, Suleyman #16, and Kif #21, The YW in my ward have a fund raiser every year for Girls Camp. Instead of buying a pizza that I won’t eat I just give a lump sum. I put “Girls Camp” on the tithing slip. In the past if the girls didn’t use up all the money for camp I’d tell the YW president to use it on an activity or for what ever the girls need. It gets put into the system without the bishop being upset. :)

  25. This was my Facebook post about this topic…

    The first paragraph is actual church announcement, the rest is how I think it should have gone from there..

    “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints appreciates the positive contributions Scouting has made over the years to thousands of its young men and boys and to thousands of other youth. As leaders of the Church, we want the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to succeed in its historic mission to instill leadership skills and high moral standards in youth of all faiths and circumstances, thereby equipping them for greater success in life and valuable service to their country.

    “But though we want the BSA to succeed, that is not the mission of the church. The church has an obligation to its youth and their parents to ensure that only organizations that uphold and teach our values are given a position of permanent influence. Our appreciation for past success does not alter the present fact that BSA is taking active steps away from strong moral positions and is openly accepting policies that support grossly immoral practices.

    “It is therefore with great enthusiasm that we announce that the church is launching our new Youth program “[pick a fitting name]” that we believe will best serve the church’s all of our youth today. This program will be replacing the current Young Men and Young Women programs, will focus more on the spirituality of our youth, will continue to provide physical outdoor activities (camping/etc) and physical health, equalize the time/money/resources spent on the youth, and will allow youth to participate in those activities that best suit and support them and their family regardless of gender.

  26. Meanwhile the press is reporting on the dismal dating scene facing LDS women in Utah, in ratios of 3:2, because of all the young men we are losing.

    I admire y’alls ability to cut to the heart of the problem.

  27. Thanks for the comments, everyone. Jax, I like the revision!

    Adam Greenwood, I should point out to you that this post is not about men leaving the church, but thank you for being consistently predictable. Perhaps you can reread Dumb Reasons for Exclusively Male Priesthood and get back to me.

    In the meantime, if you are suggesting that men are leaving the church because maybe, someday, the powers-that-be might consider bringing some measure of gender equality to the church—and that is just too painful for them to bear—then I have a better solution. Rather than telling young women they must remain passive, subservient, obedient, forgotten, and underserved in order to keep the YM around and interested, why don’t we teach the young men:

    #1: To stop being whiny, entitled babies who gain their sense of worth by excluding women?

    #2: They are children of our heavenly parents and that young women are, too, and that makes us equally valued—and that’s a good thing?

    #3: A strong, smart, dedicated, hard-working, thoughtful woman is a better companion than a frail, helpless, dependent one?

    Not only would the church be stronger as a whole, but the women would have exponentially better potential partners from which to chose—and the men would likely as well.

  28. Alison,

    You will be happy to know that in all the wards I have lived in, our young men and young women have all along been taught to be strong and independent sons and daughters of God, and to be kind and charitable and respectful, and to be diligent searchers after truth, and to be loyal to the gospel and full of faith in their Savior. I wish you could see the good that happens every Sunday and every Wednesday in the places I have lived. I hope it gets better where you live.

  29. ji, don’t worry about my neck of the woods. My dad married a true partner in 1956. My husband, 30 years ago, was one of the few RMs who didn’t expect me to drop out of college to support him and has always treated me with love and dignity–and as an equal. Our two daughters who are married found wonderful men who work beside them, not over them.

    If, however, all the women who have ever passed through a meetinghouse in all the places you have lived were treated as equals (1) your local leaders weren’t following the program as prescribed and (2) you better tell Adam that your people are responsible for all the men are leaving.

  30. mithrandirolorin,
    “Isn’t that what the Girl Scouts are for” – very funny. :(

    Many parents in the wards I have lived in have their girls participating in Girl Scouts. It’s a shame that we don’t sponsor troops through the church, and that the Activity Days/YW program is so anemic.

    It’s not just funding for a single event (camp) that is the issue. It is the large support structure required to keep a Scout troop going year-round. It’s registration fees, uniforms, equipment, recognition, committees, advancement facilitators, handbooks, manuals, training, et cetera. When you compare side-by-side (not just the funding), there is nothing resembling parity between the two programs.

  31. Around here, the ward/stake pays for Girls Camp, and the parents pay for Cub Scout day camp. I don’t know if it’s because they value the girls so much that they don’t want them to miss out on camp… or if it’s because they don’t want the girls holding fundraisers to pay for camp. After all, handling money should only be done by men.

    It’s been years since I’ve seen a fundraiser held by the YW in my ward. I don’t know that it’s happened at all since we moved in here. On the other hand… my husband is in Scouts and showed me an email suggesting that the YW bake cakes which are then auctioned off to raise money for Scout camp. Ew ew ew.

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