Please allow us to share the Boy Scouts of America’s long-standing policy regarding the participation of Scouts in political rallies and other political events.
Uniformed unit members and leaders may participate in flag ceremonies at political events and may lead the Pledge of Allegiance; however, they should retire after the ceremony and not remain on the speakers’ platform or in a conspicuous location where television viewers could construe their presence as an endorsement or symbol of support. In addition, photos of candidates or Scouts in uniform or BSA marks or logos are not allowed in political campaign materials of any kind.
Volunteers and professionals must be alert to situations that would imply that the BSA favors one candidate over another. Strict observance of our long-standing policy against active participation of uniformed Scouts and leaders in political events is mandatory.
Please notify your chartered organizations and unit leaders of this policy.
Here are some Frequently Asked Questions and the BSA’s official answers as reported on BSA’s Blog Bryan on Scouting on March 8, 2012 :
Q: Could a pack, troop, team, or crew provide a color guard flag ceremony for a candidate’s public speaking event or rally?
A: Yes. But, BSA Policy requires our adult and youth members in uniform to leave immediately after the presentation of colors and the Pledge of Allegiance. Should they want to stay they must do so as individuals, not Scouting represenatives, meaning, they would have to change out of their uniforms.
Q: So Scouts and Scouters can’t stand on the platform for the remainder of the speech or presentation?
A: No, they should not remain on the speakers’ platform or in a conspicuous location where media could construe their presence as an endorsement or symbol of support.
Q: Why is this the rule?
A: The policy is meant to prevent someone from using our brand to convey support of a candidate or ideology. This prevents Scouts from being used by any party in campaign advertisements or materials.
Q: So then why is it OK to even present the colors or lead the Pledge of Allegiance at all?
A: Those are displays of loyalty to the nation, something the BSA has always endorsed. Regardless of the outcome of the political race, the candidate and supporters pledge allegiance to the U.S. Because of this, it is always acceptable and deemed to be a part of the civic process. Also, this “service” is offered to any party, regardless of political affiliation.
Q: Can Scouts and Scouters pose for photos with political candidates at these events?
A: Yes. But photos of candidates or Scouts in uniform or BSA marks and logos are not allowed in political campaign materials of any kind.
Q: Can adult leaders or Venturers who are 18 or older vote in elections?
A: Not only can they — they should! This policy isn’t meant to limit the freedom of thought or action of any official or member acting as an individual. Scouters and Venturers shouldn’t wear their uniform to the polling place, but they should vote for whichever candidate they prefer. That’s all part of being a good citizen — something the BSA has taught for more than a century.
Q: What can Scout leaders do to support this policy?
A: Volunteers (and professionals) must be alert to situations that would imply that the BSA favors one candidate or party over another. Strict observance of our long-standing policy against the active participation of uniformed Scouts and leaders in political events is mandatory.