Boy Scouts Vote to Allow Gay Youth

The debate over the group's long-held ban on gay scouts became a national touchstone

  • Share
  • Read Later
Olivier Douliery / ABACAUSA

Scouts for Equality holds a rally to call for equality and inclusion for gays in the Boy Scouts of America at the Boy Scout Memorial in Washington, D.C., on May 22 2013.

You can now be gay and a Boy Scout.

The Boy Scouts of America voted Thursday afternoon to allow openly gay youth into their ranks, overturning a ban that had stood for more than 100 years. The group’s 1400-member National Council was closely divided, with 61% voting in favor of accepting gay youth and 39% voting against repeal of the ban.

The decision marks a dramatic change for the venerable organization. Since it was written, the Scout oath has been a mirror of American values. “On my honor I will do my best 
to do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law,” it reads, “
to help other people at all times; 
to keep myself physically strong,
 mentally awake, and morally straight.” The Boy Scouts’ decision today means the organization no longer considers “morally straight” and “sexually straight” to be the same thing.

That is a distinction that scouting families and outside groups have fought over for months. The issue drew fierce lobbying and took on the flavor of a national political campaign. Scouts for Equality employed Obama campaign data-crunching tactics to mobilize on behalf of the ban’s repeal. The Family Research Council, a social-conservative group opposed to gay marriage, organized a task force to keep it in place. Corporations like Intel and Merck put their BSA funding on hold. “Call Me Maybe” Carly Rae Jepson refused to sing for a Boy Scout concert in March. And on both sides, people prayed that the organization’s decision would reflect their moral beliefs.

The repeal had support from core BSA leadership. “The BSA’s executive committee unanimously presented this resolution because it stays true to Scouting’s mission and remains focused on kids,” BSA president Wayne Perry wrote in USA Today on Wednesday. “No matter what your opinion is on this issue, America needs Scouting, and our policies must be based on what is in the best interest of our nation’s children.”

Scouts for Equality started fighting to overturn the ban last year. Founder Zach Wahls, a 21-year-old Eagle Scout with two mothers, hired twenty staffers and organized hundreds of volunteers to promote the ban’s repeal. “Today’s vote ending discrimination of gay Scouts is truly a historic moment and demonstrates the Boy Scouts of America’s commitment to creating a more inclusive organization,” Wahls says. “Scouts for Equality is honored to be a part of the movement that has achieved a tremendous victory towards the fight for equality in America and we are proud to call ourselves Scouts.”

The new resolution does not permit gay staff or scout leaders in the organization. That still separates the Boy Scouts from other leading youth development organizations, like the Girl Scouts, 4-H clubs, and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America — all of which already allow both gay youth and staff. Scouts for Equality and GLAAD plan to continue their fight to overturn that portion of the ban next.

“Today’s vote is a significant victory for gay youth across the nation and a clear indication that the Boy Scouts ban on gay adult leaders will also inevitably end,” says Rich Ferraro, GLAAD vice president of communications. “America heard from religious leaders, corporate sponsors and so many Scouting families who want an end to discrimination against gay people.”

Mormon support for the ban’s repeal likely played a crucial role in the outcome. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced its support for the resolution last month, and over 45% of BSA chartered units are LDS, as well as two of the “Key Three” BSA leaders, including Perry. Ross Murray, who runs GLAAD’s faith outreach, says he suspects that LDS church is seeking to change its image after the Prop 8 campaign. “The Mormon Church’s endorsement for dropping the ban on gay Scouts matches the shifting attitude from within the Mormon Church,” he explains. “Increased acceptance of gay and lesbian people in society means the Mormon Church is working to keep up with that change, even while they have limits on participation and leadership.”

Supporters of the ban on gays, including the Family Research Council and OnMyHonor.net, say the decision signals that Americans religious liberties are under attack. “Sadly, the Boy Scouts’ legacy of producing great leaders has become yet another casualty of moral compromise,” FRC president Tony Perkins said in a statement that called the BSA national leadership’s efforts on the resolution “manipulative” and “strong-armed.”  Perkins says the fight is not over: “We will stand with those BSA Councils who will now act to protect boys from a new policy that only creates moral confusion and disrespects the views of the vast majority of Scouting parents.”

The anonymous gay BSA employee who wrote an op-ed for TIME this week issued a statement praising the decision. “Tonight I am heartened to know the Boy Scouts is on its way toward becoming a more welcoming, inclusive organization that allows viewpoints from people of all faiths,” he said.

The new membership policy goes into effect Jan.  1.

PHOTOS: Boy Scouts of America Turns 100

INTERACTIVE: Timeline of the Gay Rights Movement in the U.S.

101 comments
aliabhatt4488
aliabhatt4488

it is sad to me, when you read these comments from both sides.  They do not represent the Scout Law "Friendly, Courteous, Kind..." While we disagree, can't we do it in a way that shows we are a part of something bigger and more important?  Friendly, Courteous and Kind discourse is needed now more than ever with so many contentious issues before our nation.  Exam Results Results 2014

ValentineJames
ValentineJames

The LDS Church's guiding principle in this stance is that any type of sexual relation is reserved for a man and woman who are married. That isn't going to change, ever. For Mormons, 'morally straight' comes down to willingness to respect that standard of chastity, regardless of sexual orientation. 

That's why they were against Prop 8 but support the BSA inclusion vote.

An excerpt from the Church's statement on the vote,

"The Church’s long-established policy for participation in activities is stated in the basic instructional handbook used by lay leaders of the Church: “young men … who agree to abide by Church standards” are “welcomed warmly and encouraged to participate” (Handbook 2: Administering the Church [2010], 8.17.3). This policy applies to Church-sponsored Scout units. Sexual orientation has not previously been—and is not now—a disqualifying factor for boys who want to join Latter-day Saint Scout troops. Willingness to abide by standards of behavior continues to be our compelling interest."

Full statement: http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/church-responds-to-boy-scouts-of-america-policy-vote




icareeradvice
icareeradvice

This is a positive step for the scouts, but does not go far enough. The message this sends to gay scouts is that as soon as they turn 18, they are no longer welcome. Scouting's highest rank, Eagle, makes a person a scout for life. So what happens when a gay scout becomes Eagle? He apparently cannot participate in any activities after the age of 18, so it devalues the rank. The Boy Scouts, and America as a whole needs to stop the bigotry and accept everyone as equal members of society. Exam Result

lazarus00000
lazarus00000

I too was a boy scout, but my scouting experience is a great deal different than most because I worked for my scouting experience.

I come from a broken home when broken homes were not that common. for a time my sister and myself had no homeom left us with a neighbor. I was three and my sister a year younger. My grandfather and Grandmother agreed to take us in after about a year. He was 72 yo at the time. I believe he worked to introduce me to the real world at a faster pace because he realized I already had a "stacked Deck" in my future. He began by teaching me independence and risk taking. When I wanted to climb a tree, he never said"don't do that", he said instead that "I would likely fall and get hurt." so up the tree I would go and down I would fall. The crying did not seem to have the desired effect so I learned to be responsible for my own actions.

He always encouraged me go beyond my fears and when we would go to church (three times a week), he would interpret the sermon to me, but he taught me to think for myself and to question the things I recognized as not fitting. He gave me a love of history and said that "only fools would refuse to learn from it."

I decided to join the Boy scouts at 11yo and he helped me get a job at the local grocery store to pay for my scouting. as it is pretty expensive.

I loved my scouting and my scout leader. He was a WW2 Ranger that climbed the cliffs at Normandy. We had boys in our troop that I felt had unusually close relationships and always slept together, but they bothered no one else and everyone loved them. Scouting is about personal growth. The founders of the Country were not supportive of Religion or the ideas of religion. I put it to you, Religion and love of god are NOT the same things. Religion is a man made institution and if you will google "Thomas Paine" and the "Age of reason". I believe the Boy Scouts embody the spirit of the founders not the preachers that want to influence the young with their dogma.

The term Morally straight has nothing whatsoever to do with religious (or Homosexuals), or false morals given by religion. As a matter of fact I have heard preachers say that good deeds do not count in the sceme of good morals (But send me a 1000.00 dollar love offering and I will see to it god sends you a blessing).

To me, morally straight is synomonous with Integrity, doing the right thing because it is the right thing to do. Always help your fellow man, give yourself to the misson of making the world a better place for everyone. Actions like helping an elderly person or givin up your week end to plant 10,000 trees in a forrest that was destroyed by fire... is living Morally straight.

I challenge you and everyone else to read the writings of Thomas Payne, because fellows like Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, Madison and so on read his workes anf was heavily influenced by him. All Americans should be required to read his works instead of the trash the current teachers are giving our children.

Lazarus

DERich
DERich

it is sad to me, when you read these comments from both sides.  They do not represent the Scout Law "Friendly, Courteous, Kind..." While we disagree, can't we do it in a way that shows we are a part of something bigger and more important?  Friendly, Courteous and Kind discourse is needed now more than ever with so many contentious issues before our nation.  

mrbomb13
mrbomb13

So much for the Scouts being, "morally straight..."

formerlyjames
formerlyjames

The asinine manner in which the BSA leadership has handled this whole issue bodes ill as an organizational role model.  Not just the current storm in a teapot, but beginning with the sex abuse scandals which preceded it, and which hasn't  been mentioned during this debate.  I would not encourage any young person to become affiliated with such a goofy organization.

sacredh
sacredh

"Since it was written, the Scout oath has been a mirror of American values."

I dispute that. I would say that it was meant to represent an ideal of what we wished were American values. The country has been racist, sexist and class conscious. Did the the Boy Scouts represent that? We've always had the tendency to look at ourselves as better than we actually are. The Boy Scouts have taken another step toward living up to what the oath implies.

bojimbo26
bojimbo26

" God and Country " - but no LGBT .

timparker999
timparker999

New merit badge:  Interior Design.  Less knot tying. . .  more chocolate soufflés.

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

Well....there's still a ways to go but at least the more important of the two bans has been lifted.

Hollywooddeed
Hollywooddeed

Openly gay men are much less a risk to kids than religiously repressed, terrified, closeted Christian men who live in a lie about themselves.

KevinSwanberg
KevinSwanberg

As an Eagle scout it is disgusting to me to see all these people so offended by including homosexuals in scouting. I am very happy that scouting is attempting to include all! Scouting is about accepting all lifestyles and walks of life! I'm sure racists were saying the same things you all are saying now about black people in the sixties, and look how foolish those people look now. Get with the times and stop the hate! Nobody is forcing you or your child to be gay. Learn to tolerate someone else, maybe you'll even make a friend.

Donder33
Donder33

Sad day for our Cub Scout Pack... We have already had enough parents withdraw their kids that we may no longer have a viable pack. The Cub Master is trying to get a meeting with our Priest to discuss what to do next.

demej00
demej00

The New Scout Law

A Scout is trustworthy (to accept the gay lifestyle), loyal (to his boyfriend), helpful (to show other boys how to do it), friendly (to all the boys in his troop), courteous (asks before taking sexual advantage), kind (even does the ugly ones), obedient (to the LGBT agenda) , cheerful (that's why they are called gay), thrifty (takes advantage of every opportunity),brave (not afraid of STDs), clean (doesn't reuse that nasty TROJAN), and reverent (makes the act a spiritual experience).

MaxVeritas
MaxVeritas

@sacredhWithout any reputable evidence, you, the entertainment culture, uneducated media, and sexual activists have seduced today's teenagers, in particular, to believe that people are born homosexual.
However, science has found no biological basis for homosexuality, bisexuality, or transsexuality.
Study after study has found the “LGBT” lifestyle to be unhealthy, with the highest rate of sexually-transmitted diseases, and higher cancer rates and earlier deaths.
While all people are worthy and valuable, the fact is people are not "born this way," as a popular song insists.
Why does it matter that people are not born 'gay'?
The fact that people are not born homosexual matters because the entire fiber of our society is impacted -- for good or for ill. We cannot change society's laws and make new laws based on a lie. That hurts everyone.
There is no "gay gene" -- so homosexuality is not biologically based. The only human genders are male (if you inherited a "Y" chromosome from your father) and female (if you did not inherit a "Y" chromosome from him) -- so homosexuality is not a new "gender."
Not being born "gay" means this is not a "civil rights" issue. People inherit unchangeable characteristics like their race and ethnicity, but homosexuality is not inherited. Science and biology confirm this, and thousands of former "gays and lesbians" who have changed their behavior also prove this fact. Therefore, homosexuality is not a civil right for marriage or anything else.
Ironically, the "LGBT" (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) "civil rights" laws have severely infringed upon the constitutional rights and religious freedom of those who disagree, punishing dissent.                                   


mrbomb13
mrbomb13

God does not love the LGBTs.

mrbomb13
mrbomb13

Hahahahaha, that's hilarious.  The Scouts have watered down the requirements so much over the last few decades. 

MaxVeritas
MaxVeritas

@KevinSwanberg

BSA now supports spreading the love around. <---Sarcasm done

Fast Facts

  • More than 1.1 million people in the United States are living with HIV infection, and almost 1 in 5 (18.1%) are unaware of their infection
  • Homosexual, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM),1 particularly young black/African American MSM, are most seriously affected by HIV.
  • By race, blacks/African Americans face the most severe burden of HIV.

CDC estimates that 1,148,200 persons aged 13 years and older are living with HIV infection, including 207,600 (18.1%) who are unaware of their infection.1 Over the past decade, the number of people living with HIV has increased, while the annual number of new HIV infections has remained relatively stable. Still, the pace of new infections continues at far too high a level— particularly among certain groups.

mrbomb13
mrbomb13

Scouting is about being "morally straight."  Homosexuals are not morally straight, and do not do their best to, "serve God." 

MaxVeritas
MaxVeritas

@Donder33   

Makes sense huh, lose tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of scouts (which btw,  in Canada the loss was 50% of the membership)  who oppose the practice  homosexuality in order to accommodate approx 2% of those who segregate themselves on the basis of gender when it comes to love and marriage, and I must add should rightly be characterized as discriminatory and sexist in nature.

segregate: to separate, withdraw, or go apart; separate from the main body and collect in one place; become segregated.

ChristyS
ChristyS

Surely not your *Catholic* priest?? That would be in direct contradiction to the Church's teaching that homosexual persons all possess a fundamental human dignity and are entitled to our respect (U.S. Bishops' document Human Sexuality:A Catholic Perspective for Education and Lifelong Learning and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2357-2359). I copied this directly out of RCL Benzinger 5th Grade Family Life booklet my son is studying in Catholic school. Clearly, given the Church's stance, the revised BSA policy is the moral choice.

bryanfred1
bryanfred1

@Donder33 How many openly gay Cub Scouts are there, anyway?  Talk about reactionary!

Arimathean
Arimathean

@Donder33  I'm sorry that your child is losing the chance to be part of this organization, but I am very happy that those who are so close-minded that they left have one less chance to exercise the bigoted exclusion of other kids.

buffalo.barnes102
buffalo.barnes102

@demej00 

You sound like you're more worried about your own sexuality than the BSA. If you're not gay, no one can "turn" you gay by being in your vicinity or sleeping in the same tent. I'm not gay but worked with a lot of gay folks in the restaurant business. Years later and I'm still not gay. Your world view is limited by your narrow mind.

mrbomb13
mrbomb13

Actually, it was a reference to the Scouting Oath.  You can't be morally straight when you break (and then celebrate the breaking) of God's Rules (which explicitly prohibit homosexuality).

"On my honor, I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my Country and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight."

MaxVeritas
MaxVeritas

@ChristyS

Thanks for the reminder of counterfeit homosexual priests, may they ALL be caught and jailed.
Furthermore, I would be much more inclined to believe that  homosexual counterfeit Priests are the ones who are committing pederasty & pedophilia with children, who are doing so in like manner of the homosexual icon, one Harvey Milk, who at age 33 had a 16 yr old lover in his home that he committed felony pederasty with.
2 Corinthians verse 11:14-15
14.  And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.
15. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. 

retiredvet
retiredvet

@buffalo.barnes102 @demej00 Indeed. Those that think being gay is a choice are the ones wrestling with that "choice" themselves. They project the anger.  Sexuality is not a choice to be made.  It's an acceptance of reality.

sacredh
sacredh

Good point. I've worked with and been friends with some redneck idiots for years. Much to their relief, they were never infected by my realistic view of the world.

mrbomb13
mrbomb13

You again miss my point.

MaxVeritas
MaxVeritas

@sacredh  

That statement is bearing false witness, as well, New Covenant instruction is quite the opposite.

Eph 5:21-30

Instructions for Christian Households

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 

23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 

24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 

26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 

27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 

 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 

30 for we are members of his body.

31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.

MaxVeritas
MaxVeritas

@PaulDirkss   It's my prayer that verse 14 isn't a stumbling block for you, as it used to be for me.

Many Christians can and do speak for God and Christianity.

For your biblical edification.  1 Cor 2:10-16

10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.

11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.

12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.

13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.

14 The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.

 15 The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, 

 16for,

“Who has known the mind of the Lord

so as to instruct him?

But we have the mind of Christ.


sacredh
sacredh

It also says you can beat your wife. Try that and see if God keeps you out of jail.

mrbomb13
mrbomb13

The Bible explicitly labels homosexuality as an "abomination."

Do the math...

MaxVeritas
MaxVeritas

@mantisdragon91

Thank you for reminding us about homosexuals who masquerade as Priests. May they all be excommunicated and jailed.

2 cor 11;12-15

12 And I will keep on doing what I am doing in order to cut the ground from under those who want an opportunity to be considered equal with us in the things they boast about. 

13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ.

14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.

15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.

sacredh
sacredh

retiredvet, no one convinced me to be straight anymore than somebody convinced me to be tall with blue eyes. I didn't decide to be allergic to clams. I didn't choose to be good at math. Ididn't choose to be able to draw. Some things you're just born into.

sacredh
sacredh

Ty,

Maybe. Other than Rocky Horror Picture Show, I don't think I've ever watched a musical all the way through.



sacredh
sacredh

OK, I chose that path. ;  )

TyPollard
TyPollard

@sacredh 

A gay friend did turn me on to movie musicals. Does that count?