Boy Scouts of America to end ban on openly gay youth members

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      A century-old ban on openly gay youth members of the Boy Scouts of America has come to an end. 

      The Boy Scouts of America voted on May 23 to accept openly gay scouts. Over 60 percent of the BSA's National Council (with 1,400 voting members) voted to end the ban on youth. The policy change will take effect on January 1, 2014.

      The vote arrived three months after the organization delayed a decision to change its membership policy to research attitudes toward accepting gay members. The BSA emphasized that they will not accept sexual conduct by any scout, "whether heterosexual or homosexual".

      However, the ban will remain on adults.

      Approximately 70 percent of the 116,000 Boy Scout units are chartered by religious institutions. The Mormon church and the United Methodist Church both expressed support for ending the ban.

      "Sexual orientation has not previously been—and is not now—a disqualifying factor for boys who want to join Latter-day Saint Scout troops," the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stated in an official news release in response to the BSA announcement. "Willingness to abide by standards of behavior continues to be our compelling interest…We trust that BSA will implement and administer the approved policy in an appropriate and effective manner."

      However, the policy change has been met with disapproval, resistance, and threats of resignation or defection from conservative churches and scout leaders.

      Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee President Frank Page said he was "deeply saddened" that the BSA has overturned its "constitutionally protected expressive message that homosexual behavior is incompatible with the principles enshrined in the Scout Oath and Scout Law".

      The BSA has also faced financial pressure to change its policy as some of its major corporate sponsors, including Intel Corp, United Parcel Service, and Merck & Co withdrew support from troops that banned gay scouts.

      Meanwhile, Scouts Canada has been committed to ensuring diversity, including queer people, in its membership since 2000. Anyone "regardless of gender, race, culture, religious belief, sexual orientation or economic circumstance" is welcome to join.

      In the Frequently Asked Questions section on the Scouts Canada website, Scouts Canada specifically states "Scouts Canada does not discriminate for reasons of gender, culture, religious belief or sexual orientation".

      Comments

      4 Comments

      Patricia

      May 24, 2013 at 8:19pm

      I an very saddened to hear that The Biy Scouts of America has folded. You were always a solid institution, but now, how can you represent morality to boys in America?

      Patricia

      May 25, 2013 at 7:07am

      I an very saddened to hear that The Biy Scouts of America has folded. You were always a solid institution, but now, how can you represent morality to boys in America?

      Ray Cates

      May 28, 2013 at 4:24pm

      The Boy Scouts of America has always stood for certain things. Boys in scouts set an example for other boys, not now! Now the scouts have voted out their laws and even their motto.

      Surely this can be changed back. Scouts is the best program ever for boys, or at least it was. The Gay Decision is now terrible and wrong for growing boys and for the churches and institutions that allow these groups to meet in their space.

      I was a long time scout and scoutmaster in the 40's, 50's and 1960's. I always loved the discipline of scouts. You had to be able to use the Morse Code to be a 1st class scout. 21 Special merit badges were required to be an Eagle Scout. Very few boys made Eagle or Order of the Arrow. Scouting was special, but in the last 30 years it has been all downhill.

      Now boys in middle school become Eagle Scouts, and scouts don't wear their uniforms to school. Many scouts are not proud of their troops. When I was a scoutmaster every scout wore his uniform to school every Thursday. Every badge was won by very hard work, and scouts were campers many weekends. Scouting was wonderful then, the dream is slipping away.

      Every boy should be included in scouting, but sex should never enter the program. To me voting to change scouts is like violating a religion. Society may change, but scouting should hike on all the old paths. It is God, Country and a family with scouts.

      Ray Cates
      Scoutmaster Troop 115
      Fort King Junior High School
      Ocala, Florida

      I too am very saddened...

      May 28, 2013 at 6:06pm

      that these American comments are so phobic. Pretty sure "God, country, and family" can still mean something to gay/bi/pan/trans kids too. Oh yeah, same with that hard work and discipline stuff. Glad Canada gets it!