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especially religious groups that sponsor local scouting chapters, against liberals opposed to what they deem outdated discrimination.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 69.

    59. Highly Unlikely......Wait.. So kids can join the scouts and be openly gay, but only on the understanding that they can't become scout leaders in the future? How is this teaching equality and fairness?

    Perhaps this relates more to my comment (#46) & is born solely out of irrational fear & misunderstanding through ill-considered association.

  • Comment number 68.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    Rob_D Your prejudice and homophobia is astounding. Do you have any views on the parents recently convicted of burning to death 5 children? Should we ban parents in case they set fire to their or others children. Lets ban all straight, male schoolteachers, in case that lust after their female charges. Not sure exactly what you're trying to say, other than gays shouldn't be allowed. How nice!

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    Political correctness triumphs over the most elementary common sense.

    Congratulations. We have achieved a state of complete idiocy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    Imagine if the headline had been "Boy Scouts of America votes to ease ban on black members", or Jewish, or Hispanic, or Asian, or whatever. Surely we would be united that they hadn't gone far enough, and that it was despicable that it took this long.

    And keep in mind that the Boy Scouts of America still bans openly Atheist children and leaders. The BSA still has a very long way to go.

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    @49 - So you're arguing that the BSA should not be concerned about the possibility that something might happen? Can you guarantee that every single gay scout leader will NEVER do anything untoward any of the troop members? If not, I suggest you consider the consequences of what will happen - the anti-homosexual backlash will be more damaging than the current "discrimination." Do you not get this?

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    @ 55. Kurious You talk about Gay people making this a social and political issue? Really? Gay people aren't the ones banning themselves from the scout organisation.

  • Comment number 62.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    @53 - you are very unfortunate mate - my boys have had a fantastic time in the scouts.

    @ those who have "down rated" my comment (9). I congratulate you and your message, which to me is:

    "You're a hetro fascist mate and should be made to pay by us; the gay pressure group organised to lambast non-believers who dare to raise a reasoned point of view on BBC HYS. Thanks for respecting my honesty.

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    @45 fair enough, I like that way of thinking.
    I'm just hoping from the results of the consultation a secular promise is introduced, I find it increasibly weird to make a promise to something I don't believe in.

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    Wait.. So kids can join the scouts and be openly gay, but only on the understanding that they can't become scout leaders in the future? How is this teaching equality and fairness?

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    Without wishing to sound rude - your understanding is flawed. Do you assume that every man-woman situation has to be sexual, & cannot be platonic? Of course not, and the same applies to gay people, whether YOU know it or not.
    Your comment shows just what the majority of the problems are - complete lack of grasp and understanding, and fueled by prejudice. Sad, really.

  • rate this

    Comment number 57.

    #48: People's sexual orientations emerge at different ages, I knew by age eight for example that I was attracted to both males and females, not that it made much practical difference at that age but don't forget that kids in Scouting range all the way up to seventeen, who should be well aware of their sexuality by that age and not forced to hide it because of out-dated Scouting regulations.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    I was a Cub Scout and how things have changed

    What next - an openly gay president or will America draw the line there?

    Anyone who argues 'against' any gay issue is instantly labelled 'homophobic'

    It's about time gay people (and America) just went on living their lives without making it a social or political issue and stop playing the oppressed victims

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    Tom (48). "hetero-bashing"? How is a vote to partially end discrimination against one group of people "bashing" another? I would agree that we shouldn't be concerned about the sexuality of anyone - which is why discrimination of this type needs to be eradicated.

  • rate this

    Comment number 53.

    I'm unable to comment on the Boy Scouts of America, but as a Brit who lives near the local scout hut, I kept my son out of the Scouts because the fact that child abuse was going on there was well known. My son is now an adult. In the last ten years, four men involved in running the same scout group have been successfully convicted of abuse-related offences. All were unmarried.

  • rate this

    Comment number 52.

    I don't fully understand what bearing sexuality might have on scouting abilities. As ever with gay rights, it is a non-issue that should have been made so a long time ago.

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    Why, in the 21st century, are we still incapable of judging people based on their personal qualities, rather than those constructed by race or religion? I, for one, have dozens of friends who are Muslim, Christian and atheist. Why are people so obsessed with putting these arbitrary barriers between each other, that promote hate and nothing else?

  • rate this

    Comment number 50.

    I'm so glad that the American Scouts have made a start with equality.

    However, I am upset that they persuaded young children, without any proper reason, to protest against it and make them think that loving the opposite sex is bad. I mean, I know it's there but this has already caused so much bullying and so many suicides of young people that I wish I could tell them to not believe their parents.


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