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especially religious groups that sponsor local scouting chapters, against liberals opposed to what they deem outdated discrimination.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 749.

    720.G Freeman
    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.
    Note the State has to intervene in a list of the lefts choosing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 748.

    Discrimination based on nothing more than a persons sexual orientation in this day and age?

    History is not going to judge you dinosaurs well at all.

  • Comment number 747.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 746.

    @743. Sorry, got the wrong end of the stick.

  • rate this

    Comment number 745.

    @714: Have you read the article? No-one is forcing children to label themselves, but simply allowing them to stay in the Scouts if they CHOOSE to label themselves as homosexual. Also, children very usually do become aware of their sexuality well before adulthood, do you really think people magically gain a fully formed sexual orientation the minute they turn 18?

  • rate this

    Comment number 744.

    719.Lisa Kirk
    2 Minutes ago

    So refusing someone, no matter how old, entry to an organisation based on sexual orientation in this day and age is positively medieval.


    E.G. the LGBT organisations?

  • rate this

    Comment number 743.

    716. Cynical Dave
    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
    thanks for the tarring but I was alluding to the moderation done by moderators.

  • rate this

    Comment number 742.


    "All this user's posts have been removed.Why? "

    I think that I've seen this before. Whenever I get a post removed they kindly send me an email explaining why. Check your email.

    Interesting that this is a "22-year-old ban". What was different 23 years ago? Was it fine to be gay up until 1990, suddenly evil and now alright again?

  • rate this

    Comment number 741.

    IF there is NO
    "sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting,"
    How does the Scout Leader know if the young scout has a sexual tendency to be gay (or otherwise)?

    A none starter HYS.

  • rate this

    Comment number 740.

    Why not have a separate gay division of the Boy Scouts? Then no one gets offended.

  • Comment number 739.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 738.

    EEEK! My comment at @715 removed. I didn't mean to offend the mods...scouts honour!

  • rate this

    Comment number 737.

    If I had a son in the Scouts, I'd be uneasy about him going camping with someone who might have sexual designs on him. In reality, though, only about 1% of people are homosexual or lesbian, so this move has more to do with political cortrectness than practicality.

  • rate this

    Comment number 736.

    Hats off to a Country that allows its Citizens to waddle around armed to the teeth with guns that could kill a Rhinoceros, but won't allow Gay Scoutmasters.

  • rate this

    Comment number 735.

    @ 699.kanawha
    I'm sorry, but where is your evidence for your paranoid comment "often not the case"?
    I had a gay scout leader years ago and I know of such leaders now. None of them ever did or do anything they should not, just as heterosexual teachers do not every day.
    It is such unfounded, bigoted paranoia that is the basis for most of the terrorism in this world.

    PS I'm straight.

  • rate this

    Comment number 734.

    Shaunie Babes

    The rights to prosecute and censor people for the "crime" of not liking your chosen lifestyle.


    "your chosen lifestyle"?

    Guffaw! Do you think the Earth is flat too?

  • rate this

    Comment number 733.

    The beeb have removed my post ebcause I described the Boys Brigade as an evangelical Christian paramilitary group for children. I don't know who the sad green inker was who complained but I think you will find that factualy my defintion of the boys brigade 100% correct, they engage in religous instruction, they march and they do footdrill as well as having ranks. Thats a paramilitary group!

  • rate this

    Comment number 732.


    "It has become fashionable and trendy to be gay in todays world and all the squares will just have to get used to it."

    Wow, The ignorance of this comment is so astounding.

    Humanity, so advanced, yet, so backwards.

  • rate this

    Comment number 731.

    Is there anybody on this forum who chose there sexuality based on peer pressure ? Interested to hear that & whether you would change your sexual preferences based on having a straight or gay figure of authority ?
    "I'm attracted to the same sex, dad says its wrong so I've decided to be straight now". Seems Unlikely to me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 730.

    The real tragedy is that even if gay people are allowed to become leaders in the future no matter how talented, commited and dedicated they are or be good for the role, they will be put off from applying for leader jobs even if they are allowed just to avoid any backlash from homophobic parents and critics anyway. Laws don't just create tolerance, that has to come from within the communities too.


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