Boy Scouts of America votes to ease ban on gay members

 

National Commissioner Tico Perez: "This resolution dealt with youth, we have not changed our adult membership standards"

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The Boy Scouts of America organisation has voted to welcome openly gay scouts, ending a divisive ban.

But a ban on openly gay adult scout leaders will remain in place.

More than 60% of the national council, with 1,400 voting members, supported the change at a meeting in Texas.

The campaign over the ban pitted conservatives, especially religious groups that sponsor local scouting chapters, against liberals opposed to what they deem outdated discrimination.

The change is effective on 1 January.

The resolution repealing the 22-year-old ban "reinforces that Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting," the Boy Scouts of America said in a statement.

"While people have different opinions about this policy, we can all agree that kids are better off when they are in Scouting."

The issue was put to the organisation's national board in February, but a decision was delayed until the larger council could decide.

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Young Boy Scout members protest against admitting gay members in Grapevine, Texas 23 May 2013 Young scouts were called upon to protest against the inclusion of openly gay boys

"Today's vote is a significant victory for gay youth across the nation and a clear indication that the Boy Scouts ban on gay adult leaders will also inevitably end," said Rich Ferraro, spokesman for gay rights group Glaad.

But Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention executive committee, said he was saddened by the development.

"Homosexual behavior is incompatible with the principles enshrined in the Scout oath and Scout law," he said.

In the organisation's 1911 Scouts oath, members pledge: "On my honor I will do my best…. to keep myself physically strong, mentally alert and morally straight."

Some within the scouting movement were concerned conservative and religious groups would withdraw financial support if the ban were lifted.

But many liberal groups also hoped the ban on gay adult leaders would go, finding it absurd that openly gay teenage scouts would have to leave the organisation upon reaching adulthood.

The Boy Scouts of America, founded in 1910, has about 2.6 million young members, down from a peak of around 4 million, and about 1 million adult leaders and volunteers.

As recently as July 2012, the Boy Scouts concluded that its long-standing ban on gay scouts was "the best policy for the organisation".

In 2000, the organisation went to the US Supreme Court, saying its policy of "morally straight" conduct fell within its right to freedom of expression.

 

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  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 828.

    Some pretty bonkers views expressed on here!

    So I am gay, was a Scout and a Scout leader. I'm now a police officer.

    You'll all be very pleased to hear that neither the kids, the parents nor anybody in the organisation could give two hoots about my sexuality. Indeed, there was no shortage of gay people in the Scout movement!

    In relation to the US BSA, Homosexuals 1, Bigots 0.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 799.

    Totally appalling that there is still a ban on gay scout leaders. Children should have role models who promote acceptance.
    To begrudge someone else their love of another person because of gender is absolutely absurd. It's based in fear, fear of the other, fear of what is not like you. It's crazy that we still live in a world where people hold such hateful views.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 792.

    Boy scouts are, surely, boys: black, white, fat, thin, tall, short, nice, nasty, noisy, quiet, gay, straight, Christian, Jewish, clever, thick, athletic, inactive. Scouting involves the full mix and gets them all involved together. If the US Scouts barred gay boys, they were not adhering to the principals of Scouting.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 762.

    Quite frankly, I’m appalled that they still have a ban on Gay leaders.

    Glad to see that UK Scouting has a far more enlightened outlook.

  • rate this
    -13

    Comment number 641.

    I've never been a boy scout but I don't think sexual orientation or sex as a matter should be the focus of their activities. It's not a place for a straight boy scout to promote heterosexuality nor it is a place for gay boy scout to promote homosexuality. I support their decision including a continue ban on gay adult scout leaders.

 

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