Boy Scouts of America Delegates Vote to Lift Ban On Openly Gay Scouts [Updated]
The Boy Scouts of America have formally voted to lift the longstanding ban on openly gay scouts, according to a tweet from a delegate at the meeting where the vote took place. Openly gay scoutmasters and other paid adult staff, on the other hand, are still not welcome in the organization.
Some 1,400 delegates from the Scouts' National Council met at the Gaylord Texan in Grapevine this week to consider the proposal to allow gay scouts. They faced intense lobbying efforts and demonstrations from both LGBT-rights organizations and terrified homophobes. The resolution reportedly passed with 61 percent of the vote.
Resource Center of Dallas, a community center focused on LGBT issues, has released a statement from CEO Cece Cox:
Let's be clear: the Boy Scouts of America's decision today to finally lift its ban on openly gay Scouts is a half-measure. It is a step forward from their previous position, but not a full solution. It tells gay Scouts that they can take part in their troops, but once they reach adulthood, they will be denied the ability to lead. It also excludes open LGBT adult leadership in the Scouts, thereby maintaining a system of "less-than" status. Scouting should not rest and pat itself on the back for only lifting the ban on gay Scouts; they should take the next step and lift it for adult leadership as well.
6:15 p.m.: Here's the full official statement from the BSA
For 103 years, the Boy Scouts of America has been a part of the fabric of this nation, with a focus on working together to deliver the nation's foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training.
Based on growing input from within the Scouting family, the BSA leadership chose to conduct an additional review of the organization's long-standing membership policy and its impact on Scouting's mission. This review created an outpouring of feedback from the Scouting family and the American public, from both those who agree with the current policy and those who support a change.
Today, following this review, the most comprehensive listening exercise in Scouting's history the approximate 1,400 voting members of the Boy Scouts of America's National Council approved a resolution to remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone. The resolution also 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. A change to the current membership policy for adult leaders was not under consideration; thus, the policy for adults remains in place. The BSA thanks all the national voting members who participated in this process and vote.
This policy change is effective Jan. 1, 2014, allowing the Boy Scouts of America the transition time needed to communicate and implement this policy to its approximately 116,000 Scouting units.
The Boy Scouts of America will not sacrifice its mission, or the youth served by the movement, by allowing the organization to be consumed by a single, divisive, and unresolved societal issue. As the National Executive Committee just completed a lengthy review process, there are no plans for further review on this matter.
While people have different opinions about this policy, we can all agree that kids are better off when they are in Scouting. Going forward, our Scouting family will continue to focus on reaching and serving youth in order to help them grow into good, strong citizens. America's youth need Scouting, and by focusing on the goals that unite us, we can continue to accomplish incredible things for young people and the communities we serve.
Update, 9:15 p.m.: And here's the inevitable statement from Governor Rick Perry.
"The Boys Scouts of America has been built upon the values of faith and family for more than 100 years and today's decision contradicts generations of tradition in the name of political correctness. While I will always cherish my time as a scout and the life lessons I learned, I am greatly disappointed with this decision."