In a recent ruling by the Boy Scouts of America, gay adults can now act as leaders and volunteers within the organization.
A BSA Executive Committee met on Friday to review (and, ultimately, approve) an amendment to their Adult Leadership Standards policy that would allow gay men to serve. A key portion of the twelve-page policy reads as follows:
The Boy Scouts of America hereby adopts the following statement on sexuality and adult leaders:
Matters of marriage, family, and sexuality raise profound social, moral, and theological questions. The Boy Scouts of America has always been deeply respectful of the religious and moral beliefs of its chartering organizations, including religious organizations.
The Boy Scouts of America affirms that sexual relations between adults should be moral, honorable, committed, and respectful. Adult Scout leaders should reflect these values in their personal and public lives so as to be proper role models for youth. The Boy Scouts of America affirms the right of each chartering organization to reach its own religious and moral conclusions about the specific meaning and application of these values. The Boy Scouts of America further affirms the right of each chartering organization to select adult leaders who support those conclusions in word and deed and who will best inculcate the organization’s values through the Scouting program.
The Boy Scouts of America rejects any interference with or condemnation of the diverse beliefs of chartering organizations on matters of marriage, family, and sexuality. The message of Scouting is one of toleration and respect for different religious and moral conclusions in this matter, acknowledging that reasonable minds may honorably differ. Any effort to exclude or penalize chartering organizations based on their beliefs or policies regarding marriage, family, or sexuality is contrary to the Boy Scouts of America’s commitment to religious freedom and respect for the beliefs and convictions of its chartered organizations.
In a media relations statement, the BSA said, “This resolution will allow chartered organizations to select adult leaders without regard to sexual orientation, continuing Scouting’s longstanding policy of chartered organizations selecting their leaders.”
The tide began to turn when, in 2013, the Boy Scouts lifted a ban that prohibited openly gay boys from becoming scouts.
Then, in 2014, national leader and former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates became the BSA President. Gates is credited for helping bring an end to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
“We must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be. The status quo in our movement’s membership standards cannot be sustained,” Gates said, at the time.
Zach Wahls, who serves as the Executive Director of Scouts for Equality, has been involved in this movement for years. Wahls, an Eagle Scout who was raised by two lesbians, had this say of the momentous change:
Today’s announcement hopefully marks the beginning of the end of the Boy Scouts of America’s decades-old ban on gay leaders and parents like my two moms. For decades, the Boy Scouts of America’s ban on gay adults has stood as a towering example of explicit, institutional homophobia in one of America’s most important and recognizable civic organizations. While this policy change is not perfect—BSA’s religious chartering partners will be allowed to continue to discriminate against gay adults—it is difficult to overstate the importance of today’s announcement.
The BSA National Executive Board is expected to pass this policy change when they meet on July 27.