The National Council of the Boy Scouts of America have voted to end the controversial policy which bans gay youth from their ranks.
The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) have lifted their ban on gay kids and teens by a vote of more than 60% of the 1,400 delegates who met at The National Council in Grapevine, Texas. The ban on gay leaders however, was not put to a vote and still remains BSA policy. Following the vote the BSA released a statement which said:
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.
The policy change will go into effect on 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.
However, the debate is far from over for the BSA. Many opponents of the policy change have threatened to pull sponsorship of the national organization as well as individual packs and troops. Parents who are opposed the the lifting of the ban have also threatened to remove their sons from the BSA as well.
Supporters of the changes are happy with the outcome, but say that it is simply the first step and that the fight won’t be over until gay adults are allowed to participate as well.
Photo: AP/Lm Otero