Boy Scouts of America to admit openly gay boys

 

The Boy Scouts of America has thrown open its ranks to gay youngsters, but not adult leaders, in a compromise that some warned could fracture the organisation and lead to mass defections.

The Scouts stressed yesterday that their organisation of about 2.6 million boys and about one million adult leaders and volunteers would not condone sexual conduct by any Scout - gay or straight.

But the bitter debate continued as liberal Scout leaders made clear they wanted the ban on gay adults lifted too.

Yesterday's National Council vote result was welcomed by gay rights groups, but many religious institutions - which charter about 70% of the America's more than 100,000 Scouting units - were upset and some threatened to defect if the ban was lifted.

"We are deeply saddened," said Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's executive committee. "Homosexual behaviour is incompatible with the principles enshrined in the Scout oath and Scout law."

Some of the Scouting group's largest sponsors are relatively conservative denominations that have supported the broad ban on gay members and leaders - notably the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Southern Baptist churches.

The policy change takes effect from January 1. Yesterday's vote came after a survey of more than 200,000 leaders, parents and youth members earlier this year. Sixty-one per cent supported the policy of excluding gays, while 34% opposed it.

But most parents of young Scouts, as well as youth members themselves, opposed the ban. That tracks with a growing national acceptance of gay rights in the US, especially among the younger generations.

Pascal Tessier, an openly gay 16-year-old Boy Scout, was elated by the outcome.

"I was thinking that today could be my last day as a Boy Scout," he said. "Obviously, for gay Scouts like me, this vote is life-changing."

The BSA, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2010, has long excluded both gays and atheists. But protests over the no-gays policy gained momentum in 2000, when the US Supreme Court upheld the BSA's right to exclude gays. Scout units lost sponsorships by schools and other entities that followed non-discrimination policies.

"I'm so proud of how far we've come, but until there's a place for everyone in Scouting, my work will continue," said Jennifer Tyrrell, whose ousting as a Cub Scout den leader because she is gay launched a national protest movement.

The Mormon church reacted positively. "We trust that BSA will implement and administer the approved policy in an appropriate and effective manner," an official church statement said.

The National Catholic Committee on Scouting responded cautiously, saying it would assess the possible impact of the change on Catholic-sponsored Scout units.

The BSA could take a hit financially with the new policy. Many Scout units in conservative areas fear their local donors will stop giving if the ban on gay youth is lifted.

"The Boy Scouts of America will not sacrifice its mission, or the youth served by the movement, by allowing the organisation to be consumed by a single, divisive, and unresolved societal issue," a BSA statement said.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
Life and Style
President Obama, one of the more enthusiastic users of the fist bump
science
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Griffin holds forth in The Simpsons Family Guy crossover episode
tv
Life and Style
Upright, everything’s all right (to a point): remaining on one’s feet has its health benefits – though in moderation
HealthIf sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
News
Kristen Stewart and Rupert Sanders were pictured embracing in 2012
people
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

HSE Manger - Solar

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: HSE Mana...

Data Governance Manager (Solvency II) – Contract – Up to £450 daily rate, 6 month (may go Permanent)

£350 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: We are currently looking...

Powertrain Design Engineer

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: I hope you are well. My client based in ...

Java Developer - Banking - London - Up to £560/day

£500 - £560 per day: Orgtel: Java Developer FX - Banking - London - Up to £560...

Day In a Page

A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried