The Boy Scouts of America on Monday ended the group’s outright ban on openly gay adult leaders and employees, rolling back a policy that has deeply divided the membership of the 105-year-old Texas-based organization. The new policy, which takes effect immediately, comes three years after the organization removed its prohibition on gay youth but will still allow local Boy Scout units chartered by religious organizations to make their own choices regarding gay adult leaders. The Boy Scouts said the latest resolution, unanimously adopted by the organization’s executive committee on July 13, gained final approval by the National Executive Board, with 79 percent of board members present voting to support it.
The Human Rights Campaigns applauds, albeit weakly:
The new policy, which bars discrimination based on the sexual orientation of organization employees, still allows church-organized local units to consider an individual’s sexual orientation when deciding who can volunteer and lead Cub Scout packs, Boy Scout troops, and Venturing crews. HRC called on the organization to adopt a policy of full LGBT inclusion for both employees and volunteers. “Today’s vote by the Boy Scouts of America to allow gay, lesbian and bisexual adults to work and volunteer is a welcome step toward erasing a stain on this important organization,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “But including an exemption for troops sponsored by religious organizations undermines and diminishes the historic nature of today’s decision. Discrimination should have no place in the Boy Scouts, period.”
Lambda Legal reacts similarly:
Today’s vote by the National Executive Committee to end the organization’s decades-long policy of excluding openly gay and bisexual adults from membership in Scouting marks yet another milestone in the march toward LGBT equality in our nation. To be sure, the change will not free the BSA of sexual orientation discrimination altogether, however, as religious organizations that charter some 70 percent of local BSA units will still be permitted to discriminate in their selection of BSA unit leaders. Nonetheless, this is another repudiation of antigay discrimination by the Boy Scouts and another key moment for gay rights as openly gay and bisexual adults will be able to participate in Scouting, even if not in every troop or den.
VIDEO: Here’s the official announcement.