More than 1,200 former Boy Scouts of America (BSA) officials,
parents and youth attended a two-day convention in Nashville,
Tennessee over the weekend to launch Trail Life USA, a youth program
formed in the wake of the BSA's decision to allow openly gay scouts.
The policy change, which takes effect January 1, will allow openly
gay youth, but not adults, to participate in the BSA.
John Stemberger formed the Florida-based OnMyHonor.net to lobby
BSA officials against the policy change. He announced that he was
working on the faith-based alternative following passage of the
Stemberger said Friday that he believes Trail Life USA “will be
stronger, safer and more principled in every way” than the BSA. (A
video for the group is embedded on this page. Visit
our video library for more videos.)
Stemberger said that the program wouldn't be “churchy” and was
not an “anti-BSA organization.”
“In fact, we are not an anti-anything or anyone organization,”
is quoted as saying by NBC News.
He earlier explained that the program would be open to gay youths
and adults who don't “carry a rainbow flag.”
“If a young man has a same-sex attraction he would not be turned
away in the program, but he's not going to be allowed to kind of
openly flaunt it and carry a rainbow flag,” Stemberger
said. “There is not going to be any kind of witch hunt in our
organization for people and what their sexual orientations are.
We're going to focus on sexual purity, not sexual orientation.”
Zach Wahls, founder of Scouts for Equality, which lobbied for the
policy change, questioned the differences between the groups.
“You still cannot discuss sexuality within the BSA,” Wahls
told NBC News. “That hasn't changed and that will not change, and
so, it's really a distinction without a difference that they're
trying to make here.”
But Stemberger, the president of the Florida Family Policy, a
group opposed to gay rights, earlier stated that allowing openly gay
youth in the BSA would “devastate it.”
“You look at anything that has the word 'gay' on it in our
culture. A gay magazine, a gay blog, a gay website, a gay parade,
you name it, it's gonna be guaranteed to be inappropriate for kids,”
told Tim Wildmon of the Christian conservative American Family
Association (AFA). “And that's what we're talking about.
We're talking about injecting hyper-sexuality and a leftist political
agenda right into the veins of the Boy Scouts and it will utterly