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"

Related Stories

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especially religious groups that sponsor local scouting chapters, against liberals opposed to what they deem outdated discrimination.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


More on This Story

Related Stories


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 729.

    An excellent decision.

  • rate this

    Comment number 728.

    Chubb1's comment is deeply offensive. I am gay and have shared many tents with others during childhood (including scout camps) and beyond. My sexuality was irrelevent. I offered only friendship and good laughs. You should be deeply ashamed of yourself. Move into the 21st century, if you have the ability to do so.

  • rate this

    Comment number 727.

    719.Lisa Kirk Ah yes pray tell how the girl guides recently managed to maintain their girls only rule? a sexist organisation which I am bemused by the fact it continues to avoid prosecution.

  • rate this

    Comment number 726.

    @705.Jaw dropping truth
    Was being sarcastic to Larry, whose comment has now been removed, but who seemed 'gutted' at everything liberal our society. Though am more shocked more ppl aren't offended by my comparison of right wing homophobes and Hitler.

  • rate this

    Comment number 725.

    @694 maybe i wasn't clear when i said EXTRA rights gay people have.

    it means rights exclusive to gay people, so in your next post could you write one of those down and not allude to legislation that that covers people of all sexual persuasion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 724.

    "No, that's tyranny. Just because it's an elected tyranny doesn't make it any less of one."

    Funny how democracy becomes tyranny when you don't win the election.

  • rate this

    Comment number 723.

    "Why should a "minority" have extra rights above others in society?
    I would agree with an EQUALITY...
    Often using an "I'm Gay Card" is extremism."

    The BBC agenda includes currently debated issues, the treatment of minorities is for ever an active issue in a Democracy.
    So the BBC do and should air the issues facing minorities within society.

    It's not difficult.

  • rate this

    Comment number 722.

    691. cjmkz

    Like it or not, many non-religous, heterosexual couples would love to have a CP. It is irrelevant why they were introduced. The point is they now exist and are only available to gays only. That is not equality.

    Prison is supposed to be punishment; removal of liberty. Gays currently have less liberty removed than heterosexuals. That is not equality.

  • rate this

    Comment number 721.

    Just now

    Any American parent that still sends their kids to scouts must have a mean streak.


    They would be far better off being fattened in front of the TV and PlayBox than doing outdoor activities?

  • rate this

    Comment number 720.

    694. Shaunie Babes- If you choose not to like somebodys lifestyle and choice that is up to you, but to bar people from an equal footing because of their gender, race, class or sexuality is something that the state should intervene in. Freedom of speech does not mean you have the right to single out yet alone bar people whose lifestyle choice you dont like.

  • rate this

    Comment number 719.

    I am shocked at the amount of venom being hurled around here. Discrimination against people based on sexual orientation is against the law in the UK and i am pretty sure the US has laws against that sort of thing as well. So refusing someone, no matter how old, entry to an organisation based on sexual orientation in this day and age is positively medieval.

  • rate this

    Comment number 718.

    707 "What an absurd topic for HYS. The fact that it's a US domestic issue just makes it even more farcical."

    Plenty of Americans actually visit BBC for news (or so the ones I know to tell me) because many of their media outlets are very bias one way or the other. BBC is not exactly impartial but its a lot more impartial than the likes of Fox or NBC etc as a source of international news

  • rate this

    Comment number 717.

    @ 694.Shaunie Babes

    "...your chosen lifestyle."

    You can choose many things (to be ignorant for example), but you cannot choose your sexuality.

    Once you begin to understand that, then you'll hopefully appreciate why persecuting anyone for just being what they are - is quite simply wrong.

  • rate this

    Comment number 716.


    There is nothing "moderate" about disliking homosexuality. It is judging people for how they are born, for something they cannot change. People do not choose to be gay, much like they cannot choose their race. As I've said before, racism and homophobia are equivalent. Would you consider moderate racism to be acceptable? The exclusion of black people from scouts?

  • Comment number 715.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 714.

    Why is this club allowing children to have sex? Children do not even know their sexual preference. Children should not be forced or guided to LABEL their sexuality. Some people are celibate or unsure of their sexuality until they fall in love.

  • rate this

    Comment number 713.

    Why label children?

    I suspect many gay boys describe themselves as such as a phase in their development.

    Others don't.

    Does it matter?

    What does matter is disadvantaging children because of labels.

    I agree with the scouts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 712.

    There is an issue that does bother me.

    At a time when adolescents are developing into adults, the messages the get from their hormones are confusing. Added to the fact that people enter puberty at different ages and you do have the potential for some very upset young people.

    On balance, sexuality should not even be a yes/no/maybe issue for youth organisations. Kids should be kids.

  • Comment number 711.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 710.

    "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.
    There is no change to the adult scout leaders.

    So does it matter if I am Gay Heterosexual AC/DC or Bisexual?


Page 6 of 42


More US & Canada stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.