Boy Scouts Vote to Allow Openly Gay Members

J.K. Trotter
Boy Scouts Vote to Allow Openly Gay Members

The National Council of the Boy Scouts of America passed a resolution permitting openly gay members to fully participate in scouting activities on Thursday afternoon at a meeting in Grapevine, Texas. 61 percent of the 1,400-person council voted in favor of the resolution, which will go into effect in January 2014 and overturns more than century of organizational precedent. As the resolution does not alter the BSA's policy on adults, openly gay Scout leaders remain forbidden from participating in scouting activities.

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Last July, after a two-year study of the issue, BSA leaders announced its ban on openly gay scouts would remain on the books. But the Boy Scouts came under increasing pressure to revisit the ban, (from both within and without the organization, from individuals on the local and national level), culminating in widespread outrage over a scout named Ryan Andresen, who was denied the rank of Eagle Scout (the highest distinction in scouting) because he was openly gay. Two weeks later, in January 2013, the BSA' national board announced that they planned to vote on a new resolution permitting openly gay scouts and leaders to fully participate in scouting activities. A week later, however, the same officials delayed the vote until today, to coincide with a scheduled national meeting in Grapevine, Texas.

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In anticipation of today's vote, BSA distributed a 58-page memo detailing the results of an in-depth survey conducted among scouts and leaders, who were asked about the current ban on openly gay participants. The memo characterized the issue of gay scouts as "among the most complex and challenging issues facing the BSA and society today" and found that while a majority of the organization's youth opposed the ban on openly gay people, a majority of the adults participants supported it.