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Boy Scouts of America makes it official

Boy Scouts of America makes it official

Following a unanimous vote of its executive council earlier this month, the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America yesterday voted 79% in favor of reversing the organization’s long-standing ban on openly gay adults in leadership positions.

On Monday, July 27, the National Executive Board ratified a resolution that removes the national restriction on openly gay adult leaders and employees. Of those present and voting, 79 percent voted in favor of the resolution. The resolution was recommended for ratification by the Executive Committee earlier this month. The resolution is effective immediately.

Chartered organizations will continue to select their adult leaders and religious chartered organizations may continue to use religious beliefs as criteria for selecting adult leaders, including matters of sexuality. This change allows Scouting’s members and parents to select local units, chartered to organizations with similar beliefs, that best meet the needs of their families. This change also respects the right of religious chartered organizations to choose adult volunteer leaders whose beliefs are consistent with their own. –

While the organization has been moving stealthily towards a more inclusive policy over recent years, the push to end discrimination now might in part be inspired by legal challenges, according to the New York Times. The policy ends discrimination in all Boy Scouts offices and paid employment. Such actions were vulnerable to anti-discrimination lawsuits in some states such as New York. By the end of Monday, the Times reports, the New York attorney general had dropped an anti-discrimination investigation against the organization in that state.

Despite language clearly designed to mollify conservative religious critics, the announcement was a disappointment to some. The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints, or Mormon church, issued this response last night.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is deeply troubled by today’s vote by the Boy Scouts of America National Executive Board. In spite of a request to delay the vote, it was scheduled at a time in July when members of the Church’s governing councils are out of their offices and do not meet. When the leadership of the Church resumes its regular schedule of meetings in August, the century-long association with Scouting will need to be examined. The Church has always welcomed all boys to its Scouting units regardless of sexual orientation. However, the admission of openly gay leaders is inconsistent with the doctrines of the Church and what have traditionally been the values of the Boy Scouts of America.

Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout and executive director of Scouts for Equality, spoke to the Guardian about the decision.

“What really has to happen is change in the sponsoring organizations,” he said, adding that his concern was not with specific religious groups but for full inclusion.

“I’m not worried about Mormon units not allowing gay leaders as there aren’t a lot of openly gay Mormons anywhere,” he said. “But discrimination sends a harmful message to gay youths and straight youths, and it has no place in scouting.”

However, he said,

“I think this is the most progressive resolution we could’ve expected from the Boy Scouts.”

Read an earlier report on this evolving decision here. Photo credit Scouts for Equality.



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