Boy Scouts of America vote to allow gay members
posted at 10:01 pm on May 23, 2013 by Mary Katharine Ham
A reversal of the ban on openly gay Scouts passed by 60 percent out of the National Council’s meeting, but the policy on gay adult leaders remains unchanged:
The Boy Scouts of America voted Thursday to end its controversial policy banning gay kids and teens from joining one of the nation’s most popular youth organizations, ditching membership guidelines that had roiled the group in recent years.
Over 60 percent of Scouting’s National Council of 1,400 delegates from across the country voted to lift the ban, BSA officials said. The ban on gay leaders was not voted on and will remain in place.
“This resolution today dealt with youth. We have not changed our adult membership standards. They have served us well for the last 100 years. Those were not on the table,” said Tico Perez, BSA national commissioner.
I’m sufficiently torn on this subject that I don’t write much about it. I think Scouting is an important force for good in this country, and am happy to see as many kids involved as possible, gay and straight. Frankly, I was jealous that I couldn’t be in the Pinewood Derby. There is a generational shift that means more and more present and future Scouts will be perfectly comfortable with this new guideline. I also have understanding for those who worry there will never be enough rule changes in this private, traditional organization to satisfy some activists on the left until the Scouts are just another organization of the cultural left. Many feel like they didn’t join Scouts to be involved in a series of skirmishes in the culture war, and know there will be plenty more to come. The fight to allow gay leaders starts today, as activists made clear:
But the outcome of the historic ballot is not going to end the debate: Some opponents on the right said they would pull their sponsorships of packs and troops, and parents threatened to take their boys out of Scouting; LGBT activists said the policy change doesn’t go far enough because gay adults still wouldn’t be allowed to participate.
Ohio mom Jennifer Tyrrell, who was ousted in April 2012 as den leader of her son’s Tiger Cub pack because she is a lesbian, said it was a step forward even though she wouldn’t benefit from the change.
“I am so excited because even though it doesn’t affect me, it is what we’ve been working for,” she said. “And I think it’s an indication of what’s to come.”