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especially religious groups that sponsor local scouting chapters, against liberals opposed to what they deem outdated discrimination.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

Risking donor appeal?
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 209.

    Maybe one day they'll allow black scouts as well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 208.

    Reply to 196 Dan S: My two girls are members of a scout troop in Bern (Switzerland), mixed boys and girls. We have no problem with it, and neither do the kids; they have a whale of a good time. BTW, nobody cares whether some of the boys or girls may someday turn out gay (and no doubt some of them will).

  • rate this

    Comment number 207.

    196. Dan S
    "Why not just one scouting organization that treats girls and boys as completely equal members"

    Why don't you set up such an organisation, so people can decide to joi, rather than hijacking organisations that already have members? You would get a flat response from the children for such a proposal, so, to get what you want ideologically, children have to be forced / cornered

  • rate this

    Comment number 206.

    @204 - no-one is going to flirt with you, you daft wally. Lighten up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 205.

    Oldwoodman, your correct that homosexuality is a sin under many religious "laws' but then so is marrying a woman who isn't a virgin and so is eating meat on a Friday. Its amusing that people who preach and are led by a book written 2000 years ago by Man not a god always pick and choose which religious laws they wish to abide by.
    Hypocrite? I thinks so.

  • rate this

    Comment number 204.

    @all: Why the heavy down-voting @179? Perhaps all depends on our interpretation of "openly gay". I have no problem with Southern Baptists, and no quarrel with people instinctively homosexual who are "open" and honest about this as long as they're not trying to flirt with me etc. I'm not trying to promote my religion here; there are better places for that. I'm just pointing out the middle road!

  • rate this

    Comment number 203.

    As a gay man, I have to say I am a little bored of the BBC constantly running HYSs on this subject. I very much support equality, but often feel there are more important subjects to debate - the environment, economic failure, corporate greed etc. All HYSs like this do is bring out the nasty swivel eyed bigots.

  • rate this

    Comment number 202.

    @192."The views of a minority group?"
    Homosexuals are a minority, the people who rightly think they deserve equality and respect are not a minority! Many Christians do not have a problem with that and the rest that do give them a bad name!

  • rate this

    Comment number 201.

    I am now fully convinced the BBC is a pro gay propaganda machine and morally rotten! Totsiens BBC!

  • rate this

    Comment number 200.

    Is there no equality act in the USA? My shock is that in 2013 that gay boy scouts were even banned. Whilst I respect that each person is entitled to their own opinion, I am surprised at how many negative and ill informed comments there are. Someone wrote that allowing openly gay leaders in the future could lead to adult/child relationships. I really don't understand that one!

  • rate this

    Comment number 199.

    Non storey & the BBC are inflaming the UK gay marriage debate with this, they clearly have an agenda to assist the 'progressive' destruction of the traditional family for the benefit of a minority insecure group who are intolerable about people disagreeing with their way of life.

    I will not change my mind about gay marriage even if the law does. I will just refer to their unions as Gay Marriage

  • Comment number 198.

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

  • Comment number 197.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 196.

    186. Stephen of Woking
    Well, why not? Why not just one scouting organization that treats girls and boys as completely equal members of the same team? The more I think about it, the more I like the idea. Certainly there's nothing in boy scouting that's inappropriate for a girl to learn, and vice versa, right?

  • rate this

    Comment number 195.

    I would expect a surge in recruitment to the scouts and I for one will be in the very front of the queue.

  • Comment number 194.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 193.

    The assumption always seems to be that gay people are more sexually predatory than straight people. Cosidering the alleged level of child abuse I very much doubt it. But whatever the facts isn't it important that children learn to recognise inappropriate advances and know how to deal with them? Believing that some is 'safe' makes this task harder. Openness = safety.

  • rate this

    Comment number 192.

    The fact is that homosexuality is a sin under many if not all faiths,supporters are asking persons of faith to abandon the teachings of their religion in favour of what? The views of a minority group? the real question should not be 'how can we make people accept homosexuality as normal' but 'why should millions of people abandon their faith to suit me'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 191.

    Why is the US, a country that leads the way in many regards, still so far behind everyone else in so many other aspects of life...???

    Funny isn't it how those most vocal about how "wrong" they think homosexuality is often turn out to be secretly gay themselves!

    Cardinal O'Brien in Scotland being merely the latest in a long, long line!

  • rate this

    Comment number 190.

    Why does the BBC always ask for comments on all of the 'gay' news stories but not on all of the other interesting news stories. Is there an agenda here?


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