Around 1,400 voting members of the Boy Scouts of America National Council voted 61 percent to 38 percent this afternoon to finally dismantle the group's ban on gay scouts. Unfortunately, the BSA will also continue barring gay scout leaders.
ThinkProgress reports that the BSA upholding its discriminatory stance against openly gay adults seems to be nothing more than the organization kowtowing to the pressures of its religious partners, including the increasingly large and powerful Mormon church:
BSA President Wayne Perry wrote, in a USA Today op-ed Wednesday, that allowing LGBT leaders "would have conflicted with the majority of our partners, 70% of which are religious organizations, and would have disrupted our ability to deliver Scouting." But in the same statement, he noted, the organization was "unaware of any major religious chartered organization that believes a youth member simply stating he or she is attracted to the same sex, but not engaging in sexual activity, should make him or her unwelcome in their congregation."
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.
[Image via AP]