Boy Scouts of America President says ban on gay leaders needs to end

Robert Gates, who helped end 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell', said the position was 'unsustainable'

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The President of the Boy Scouts of America has said that the group’s ban on adult gay leaders needs to end.

Mr Robert Gates said at the group's national meeting in Atlanta that he does not plan to revoke the charters of councils that allow gay leaders, which could significantly weaken enforcement of the ban.

Mr Gates helped end the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy that barred openly gay individuals from serving in the military, during his time as U.S. secretary of defense.

“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," said Mr Gates.


"Dozens of states - from New York to Utah - are passing laws that protect employment rights on the basis of sexual orientation," he said. "Thus, between internal challenges and potential legal conflicts, the Boy Scouts of America finds itself in an unsustainable position."

"We are 180 degrees from where we were a year ago," said Zach Wahls, executive director of Scouts for Equality. "This is a very, very positive development."

Gates said he personally would have supported going further toward lifting the Scouts' ban on gays but would not reopen debate during his two-year term.

"The one thing we cannot do is put our heads in the sand and pretend this challenge will go away or abate. Quite the opposite is happening," Gates said.

The policy received its first major challenge in April when the first openly gay adult was hired as a summer camp leader by the Greater New York Council of Boy Scouts.

Additional reporting Reuters