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especially religious groups that sponsor local scouting chapters, against liberals opposed to what they deem outdated discrimination.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 109.

    @95 you miss the point. Being openly gay is only a recent mainstream social development but how we as society handle this gift is a big part of the issue

    The impact on non gay kids is HUGE as sexuality is highlighted at such a young age which requires sensitive and responsible education by peers

    Imagine the impact on kids who receive prejudice opinions which is a certainty in today's world

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    94.quagmire5389....Many boys would leave scouting if gay leaders were allowed and that would be regrettable. That is why it was prudent.

    With all due respect, is this not more a case that their homophobic parents would force them to leave? Strange this bias doesn't exist in the medical profession. Wouldn't that be jolly inconvenient. To reiterate 96gaunt, scouting is about acceptance of all etc.

  • Comment number 107.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.


    “the decisions to not allow gay leaders was "regrettable but prudent" because of the current climate of the nation.”

    The cost of insurance is also function of risk & cost. Consider how much the Church in the U.S. has paid out in recent settlements.

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    @74 "How is anything gay progressive when gays cannot "progress" society as they do not even procreate."

    I am gay. I've dedicated my working life to improving education internationally. A friend of mine, who is straight but has no kids, is a tireless social worker.

    Neither of us have procreated. Both of us work to progress society. Do you really think having kids is the only way to contribute?

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    I believe Christian groups should join hands with the development of a new organization built on Christian principles. For example, Seventh-day Adventists have for many years operated a program similar to Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts called Pathfinders. Compromise on principle or truth is never safe nor right. Compromise not demeaning principle is a demonstration of love.

    Troy Montana

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    Welcome to the twenty first century Bot Scouts of America.

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    quagmir Prudent for whom?
    All I can glean from your comments is that you feel it OK to be prudent at the expense of trying to overcome discrimination, and your assertion that "most boys would leave.....". You know that how, exactly? And do you not think that if they left because of "their" prejudices, then the REAL ethos of the scout movement would be better off without them. Probably not!

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    81 lelboy - yes, I do know that a great many sex crimes are committed by men against girls. This is why I do not have a problem with those who oppose straight men supervising young girls in the scouts etc. But the same applies to gay men and boys. This is consistent. Some decent men (straight and gay) may be hard done by as a result, but it's safety first I'm afraid.

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.


    Fair point - to some degree, I have been playing "devil's advocate".

    As author of the lowest rated comment, 9 (sadly), I can only say: sorry for upsetting anyone; and, actually, there are probably far more important things we could/should be commenting on.

    Be a leader, not a sheep.

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    @89 - If you are going to correct my typo and rail on about my pretentiousness, learn how to spell the word correctly yourself. It is Ad hominem (look, I didn't miss the "i" this time), not ad hominen.

    I also suggest you look up the meaning of the phrase and try avoiding it if you intend to persuade me. If you insist on attacking me - go for it, but don't expect me to feed your trolling further.

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    Why do Americans seem to get in such a tiz over this sort of thing ( gays in the military being a similar fuss) . Other countries just seem to to it and move on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    "A scout accepts the other man as he finds him, and makes the best of him"

    Written as part of the scout law by Baden Powell our founder, who by the way some believe he himself to be a repressed homosexual. As part of the scouting world for the best part of 15 years i am appalled there is even discussion about this, scouting is about acceptance of all from all backgrounds and ways of life.

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    Blast. This is not good news!

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    @87 The only thing making this political is the fact that it happened, had gay kids been accepted from the start there would have been no issue. What is that tosh about impact on non gay kids? What impact do you really expect there to be? Because I can't think of any detrimental effect that this will have on straight kids.

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.


    Although I appreciate your attempted to set up a straw man argument it's very much besides the point I made.

    As I stated before I believe the decisions to not allow gay leaders was "regrettable but prudent" because of the current climate of the nation. Many boys would leave scouting if gay leaders were allowed and that would be regrettable. That is why it was prudent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    (82) Agree Tom, but I am not missing the point, you are making a point that does not exist. If the kids don't care, why discriminate? Sexuality is not relevant here. You are trying to make it out to be some "gay mafia" plot to turn the world gay. It is not. It is a simply case of ending unjustified discrimination, nothing more, which you would hope any civilised society would support.

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    At last, we're seeing comments that recognise the fear over the prejudice in this unjustified gay/paedophile association. Anyone in doubt should refer to Groth & Birnbaum (1978) for starters.

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    What has being homosexual got to do with scouting and the principles of being a good scout? Nothing. Sexual orientation is irrelevant. Time to remove all prejudices from organisations. Whether people agree or not is also irrelevant, personal views should not interfere with who can or cannot join an organisation

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    @82 - I would think so too, but among my gay friends who are rights-activists, they can't (or won't) separate the issue from their sexuality and see it as active prejudice (we've talked about this and similar issues before). They may not represent all or even the majority but they do represent held attitudes.

    Sad state of affairs when knee-jerk emotionalism wins the day over critical thinking.


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