Lifestyle & Belief

Boy Scouts voting to allow gay Scouts, but not leaders


Eagle Scouts Will and James Oliver talk to media after delivering boxes containing 1.4 million signatures urging the Boy Scouts of America to reverse the organization's ban on gay Scouts on February 4, 2013 in Irving, Texas.


Tom Pennington

The Boy Scouts of America suggested on Friday removing a ban on openly gay youth, but maintaining it on adult leaders.

On its website, the organization said it’s nearing a conclusion to “the most comprehensive listening exercise in its history” regarding its policies on homosexual membership.

After debate that began in February, BSA included in the proposal that “no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.”

At a national conference next month, 1,400 voting members will determine if Boy Scouts change the policy beginning next year.

Boys Scouts of America has come under pressure from former members and the public after denying a boy his Eagle Scout honor based on his sexuality, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

Some former members returned their Eagle Scout badges in protest.

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Today's announcement has satisfied some opponents of the 100-year-old organization's policy.

“We are seeing a rapid and historic shift toward equality for all,” a news release from Courage Campaign representative Rick Jacobs said, according to the Chronicle.

“The Boy Scouts are now beginning to catch up with this reality."

However, BSA has also heard from prominent voices, including those in politics, that urged Scouts to remain as they always have.

It appears the BSA is trying to appease both groups. On its website it maintains there is no sexual contact, be it heterosexual or homosexual, between Scouts and leaders.

It also says the organization doesn’t want any part in the larger societal debate around sexuality.

“The Boy Scouts of America does not have an agenda on the matter of sexual orientation, and resolving this complex issue is not the role of the organization, nor may any member use scouting to promote or advance any social or political position or agenda,” the website says.

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