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especially religious groups that sponsor local scouting chapters, against liberals opposed to what they deem outdated discrimination.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

    Comment number 29.


    So what's wrong with gay people?

    Get a grip America it's not new in the world!!

  • Comment number 28.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    imagine if these people had been protesting against black people joining.... anything - Ludicrous ludicrous. How can such bigotry even continue to exist? We are supposed to be enlightened, and yet again, one can actually see Homophobia in action. Whatever 2000 yo book one uses, it just seems to me that OK magazine may hold more truth. If a kid identifies as gay (or black) - so be it....let them be

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    @ 14 I'm afraid it sounds bad because it is, you're effectively conflating openly gay men with paedos. Allowing openly gay scout leaders will not lead to increase in abuse, not least of all because any actual paedophile is not going to allow any such ban from standing in their way. They tend to be a little bit devious in that way, and can be married as their primary sexual interest is in kids

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

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

    The only reason for this would be because they consider gay people to be pedophiles.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    Finally! A step in the right direction. Now all they have to do is allow gay leaders and there will be no problem. What the heck does sexuality have to do with scout membership or leadership? So long as leaders are not paedophiles, their sexual preferences are irrelevant. Maybe they still think homosexuality and paedophilia are correlated. How sad.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Having an opinion about religion, is *one* thing.

    Preaching your religion and trying to indoctrinate others, is a different thing, altogether.

    Its the preaching and indoctrination that causes the wars.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    For those negatively rating my comment (9). I have three boys who have been in the scouts (beavers/cubs) from 8 to 18. They and their colleagues in the organisation have, to my knowledge, come across "being gay" as an issue. I am just saying: being gay is not an issue for me (or them) but I am being honest in also saying that being heterosexual is, to me, almost becoming not the norm.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    It was inevitable, the Boy Scouts are going to have to adapt to modern changes or face extinction. The ban on openly gay adults will most likely be lifted as well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    17, interesting read before you get removed. How is this news, really what a ludicrous world we live where this is news.

    I cannot believe this is news cand I am even adding a comment

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Forgive me if I'm wrong, but do boys that are young enough to join the Boy Scouts really have any concrete notion of their sexuality? I know that when I was a member in this country, the idea of having a relationship with anyone (regardless of gender) was still largely an alien concept, and the same could have been said of my peers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    Well, was never in the scouts. But....there must be rules, agreements, and penalties for the young men (boys) to uphold in order to retain memberships. This is how societies are regulated. If the BS of A are private, it seems inappropriate and an anomaly. It, the BS of A have all of the features of a public association, and as such, should conform to the black and red letter laws of the land.

  • Comment number 17.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Why keep the ban on gay Scout leaders? What qualifications do gay volunteers lack?

    Unfortunately, it sounds like "we don't trust gay people around our kids". Is the difference between homosexuality and paedophilia really such a giant cause of confusion?

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    A little late but a welcome move. Perhaps they can also now think about changing their position on Atheists and Agnostics as well.

  • Comment number 14.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Sad to see the young boys being used as part of the campaign (in the picture). At least one of those boys will grow up to be gay (based on the law of averages). Hope it doesn't have too negative an effect upon his life. The suicide rate is high enough among gay teens / young gay men as it is thanks in large part to discrimination, never mind the views it also reinforces amongst the others.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    I really can't see the fuss. This is all about changing one or two words in their club rules: in reality, I can't see thousands of gay boys rushing to join any organisation that has so openly declared its hatred and intolerance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.


    They are ab-so-lutely mental nutjobs with their Christianity over there.

    I know one thing for certain. Fox News is going to EXPLODE.

    Bill O'Reilly will be raging about the war on Christianity, and Sean Hannity will be interviewing a preacher about the eroding moral fibre of the country.

    Seriously, they are ONE step away from being the Christian equivalent of Abu Hamza and Abu Qatada.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    It's a halfway house but it will almost certainly end up with the BSA being take to court by those who are kicked out or denied leadership opportunities as adults as the BSA has now taken on a self-contradictory policy. The sooner they wake up and realise the world is more tolerant than they are, the better.


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