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These policies have led to various disputes and controversies.
The Boy Scouts of America (BSA), one of the largest private youth organizations in the United States, has policies which prohibit atheists, agnostics and, until January 2014, prohibited all "known or avowed homosexuals", Prior to these policy changes, BSA had denied or revoked membership status or leadership positions for violation of these foundational principles.
The BSA had contended that its policies were essential in its mission to instill in young people the values of the Scout Oath and Law.
The organization's legal right to have these policies has been upheld repeatedly by both state and federal courts. Dale, the Supreme Court of the United States has affirmed that as a private organization, the BSA can set its own membership standards.
The BSA's policies have been legally challenged but have not been found to constitute illegal discrimination because as a private organization in the United States, the BSA has the right to freedom of association, In recent years, the policy disputes have led to litigation over the terms under which the BSA can access governmental resources, including public lands.
According to its mission statement, the Boy Scouts of America seeks "to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law".
All members are required, as a condition of membership, to promise to uphold and obey both of these pledges.The texts of the BSA's Scout Oath and Scout Law for Boy Scouting have remained unchanged since they were approved in 1911, Scout Oath On my honor I will do my best To do my duty to God and my country and to obey the Scout Law; To help other people at all times; To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.In reciting the Scout Oath, Scouts promise to do their duty to God and to be morally straight; the Scout Law holds that a Scout is clean and reverent.As early as 1978, the Boy Scouts of America circulated a memorandum among national executive staff stating that it was not appropriate for homosexuals to hold leadership positions in BSA.In both instances, the organization asserted that it was not a new policy to oppose and disfavor atheism, agnosticism and homosexuality, but rather, it was just enforcing long-held policies which had never been published or publicly challenged.The Boy Scouts of America makes a division between its Scouting programs and the Learning for Life program.