The Mormon church said on Thursday it is no longer participating in two Boy Scouts of America programs for older teenagers, a change that will affect more than 185,000 boys in the United States and Canada.
Beginning January 2018, the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is cutting ties with the Boy Scouts’ Varsity and Venturing programs, youth development activities aimed at preparing young men ages 14 to 18 for adulthood.
This announcement came months after the Boy Scouts began accepting transgender boys into the program. But the church said this did not influence its decision to pull out of the programs.
“Instead, young men activities will focus on spiritual, social, physical and intellectual goals outlined by the Church,” the church said in a statement. “These activities are designed to be fun and meaningful and provide opportunities for personal growth and development.”
Ellen Kahn, an official at the Human Rights Campaign, criticized the decision and linked it to the transgender issue.
“While the Boy Scouts of America and society in general move forward to support and include LGBTQ people, sadly the Mormon Church continues to send a damaging message to their own youth that being LGBTQ — or being an ally to LGBTQ people — is not of value,” Kahn said.
“It is a disservice to their own members, many of whom are moving in the direction of accepting and affirming their LGBTQ children.”