Gay-Friendly Boy Scouts Alternative Growing Quickly

Navigators doubles its membership in about a year

By Michael Franco,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 21, 2013 3:30 PM CDT

(Newser) – The Navigators is a tiny group compared to the Boy Scouts, but Mother Jones reports that its gay-tolerant creed has helped it more than double its chapters to 45 in about a year. A former Boy Scout troop leader in Harlem formed the Navigators in 2003, fed up with the scouts' ban on gay troop leaders. The group does most of the same things as the bigger organization, but it differs in its "Moral Compass," which has members pledge "to help create a world free of prejudice and ignorance" and to "treat people of every race, creed, lifestyle, and ability with dignity and respect."

"We wanted our two sons to take part in scouting [and] we wanted to do that within an organization that reflects our family's values," says one parent who signed up. Membership in the Boy Scouts has declined by about a third since 1999, though it still has about 2.6 million members. The Navigators? Maybe 600. The group, however, is adding two chapters a month, with about 10 kids per chapter. (Meanwhile, the Boy Scouts may be ready to end its ban on openly gay scouts, but not on gay leaders; click for the latest.)

File photo of a Boy Scouts uniform fashioned with a patch supporting gay rights.   (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
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We'd prefer that the BSA return to its core values of mutual respect and religious freedom, but fully understand that other folks don't want to wait. - Zach Wahls, founder of Scouts for Equality, which is advocating for the Boy Scouts to lift its gay ban.

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