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Boy Scouts approve plan to accept openly gay boys

By David Crary & Nomaan Merchant

Associated Press

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 03:33 p.m. HST, May 23, 2013


GRAPEVINE, Texas » The Boy Scouts of America threw open its ranks today to gay Scouts but not gay Scout leaders — a fiercely contested compromise that some warned could fracture the organization and lead to mass defections of members and donors.

Of the roughly 1,400 voting members of the BSA's National Council who cast ballots, 61 percent supported the proposal drafted by the governing Executive Committee. The policy change takes effect Jan. 1.

"This has been a challenging chapter in our history," the BSA chief executive, Wayne Brock, said after the vote. "While people have differing opinions on this policy, kids are better off when they're in Scouting."

However, the outcome will not end the bitter debate over the Scouts' membership policy.

Liberal Scout leaders — while supporting the proposal to accept gay youth — have made clear they want the ban on gay adults lifted as well.

In contrast, conservatives with the Scouts — including some churches that sponsor Scout units — wanted to continue excluding gay youths, in some cases threatening to defect if the ban were lifted.

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

The Assemblies of God, another conservative denomination, said the policy change "will lead to a mass exodus from the Boy Scout program." It also warned that the change would make the BSA vulnerable to lawsuits seeking to end the ban on gay adults.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry also expressed dismay.

"While I will always cherish my time as a Scout and the life lessons I learned, I am greatly disappointed with this decision," he said.

The result was welcomed by many liberal members of the Scouting community and by gay-rights activists, though most of the praise was coupled with calls for ending the ban on gay adults.

"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 ouster as a Cub Scout den leader in Ohio because she is lesbian launched a national protest movement.

Pascal Tessier, a 16-year-old Boy Scout from Maryland, was elated by the outcome.

Tessier, who is openly gay, is on track to earn his Eagle Scout award and was concerned that his goal would be thwarted if the proposed change had been rejected.

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

The vote followed what the BSA described as "the most comprehensive listening exercise in Scouting's history" to gauge opinions.

Back in January, the BSA executive committee had suggested a plan to give sponsors of local Scout units the option of admitting gays as both youth members and adult leaders or continuing to exclude them. However, the plan won little praise, and the BSA changed course after assessing responses to surveys sent out starting in February to members of the Scouting community.

Of the more than 200,000 leaders, parents and youth members who responded, 61 percent supported the current policy of excluding gays, while 34 percent opposed it. Most parents of young Scouts, as well as youth members themselves, opposed the ban.

The proposal approved Thursday was seen as a compromise, and the Scouts stressed that they would not condone sexual conduct by any Scout — gay or straight.

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

Since the executive committee just completed a lengthy review process, there were "no plans for further review on this matter," the group added, indicating it would not be revisiting the ban on gay adults anytime soon.

Among those voting for the proposal to accept openly gay youth was Thomas Roberts, of Dawsonville, Ga., who serves on the board of a Scout council in northeast Georgia.

"It was a very hard decision for this organization," he said. "I think ultimately it will be viewed as the right thing."

The BSA's overall "traditional youth membership" — Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Venturers — is now about 2.6 million, compared with more than 4 million in peak years of the past. It also has about 1 million adult leaders and volunteers.

Of the more than 100,000 Scouting units in the U.S., 70 percent are chartered by religious institutions.

Those include liberal churches opposed to any ban on gays, but some of the largest sponsors are relatively conservative denominations that have previously supported the broad ban — notably the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Southern Baptist churches.

While the Southern Baptists were clearly upset by the vote to accept openly gay youth, the Mormon church reacted positively.

"We trust that BSA will implement and administer the approved policy in an appropriate and effective manner," an official LDS 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, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2010, has long excluded both gays and atheists.

Protests over the no-gays policy gained momentum in 2000, when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the BSA's right to exclude gays. Scout units lost sponsorships by public schools and other entities that adhered to nondiscrimination policies, and several local Scout councils made public their displeasure with the policy.

___

Crary reported from New York.

Online:

BSA Membership Standards Resolution: http://bit.ly/185yyXk







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8082062424 wrote:
this will be interesting they will allow them which i think is a good thing.but at the same time say this lifestyle is wrong.
on May 23,2013 | 12:33PM
allie wrote:
What about openly lesbians in Girl Scouts?
on May 23,2013 | 12:42PM
8082062424 wrote:
what a matter allie feeling left out
on May 23,2013 | 01:25PM
retire wrote:
The girl scouts already allow lesbian scouts and scoutmasters.
on May 23,2013 | 01:31PM
Kahu Matu wrote:
Let the lawsuits come. When did it become legal and good to encourage children (under 18) to participate in sexual activities. Children were not thought to be old enough to give consent so it became rape, however here a group that is held as a good mentor for young boys will now promote them to participate in various forms of sex. Seems like a lawsuit waiting to happen and will cause many responsible parents to shy away from them.
on May 23,2013 | 01:20PM
8082062424 wrote:
it will be interesting because the stand on this life style being wrong. so the next battle will be to remove that teaching
on May 23,2013 | 01:26PM
Kahu Matu wrote:
Are you suggesting of changing the age of consent? It is wrong for a minor to have pornography. It is wrong for a minor to engage in sex with another person. Therefore the stance of a child being "openly gay" is illegal. Sodomy with a child is illegal. To remove that safeguard and encourage children to practice sodomy will hopefully always be wrong.
on May 23,2013 | 02:42PM
Kahu Matu wrote:
I would hope that sodomy of a minor, or the encouragement of such an act against a child, will always be against the law. We need to protect our children from the dangers that adults may engage for their own health and emotional stability, and not just throw them to the wolves in the name of "equality".
on May 23,2013 | 02:50PM
8082062424 wrote:
look what happen at the blind and deaf school. they never said if the kids who committed the crimes were punsihed. of is they were removed from the school.
on May 23,2013 | 03:09PM
Kahu Matu wrote:
To have the Boy Scouts embrace and encourage children to determine their sexual choice will simply lead to dialogue and a community that may very well experience the same abuse that was found at the Deaf and Blind school of Honolulu. Discussion and promotion of sexual activity should not be part of any social organization of kids. To do so is just asking for lawsuits and sexual abuse to ensue.
on May 23,2013 | 05:19PM
kuewa wrote:
In what way is this encouraging participation in sexual activity?
on May 23,2013 | 02:23PM
8082062424 wrote:
on a simple level it why we have boy scouts and girls scouts and why both are not one program. it also why we have girl locker rooms and boy locker rooms. another examples would be what went on at the deaf school in Hawaii with a gay group of kids.
on May 23,2013 | 02:52PM
retire wrote:
They might as well rename this country sodom and gommorah, we have smashed our moral compass.
on May 23,2013 | 01:33PM
iwanaknow wrote:
The beginning of a slippery slope?
on May 23,2013 | 03:00PM
blackmurano wrote:
After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled several years ago that the Boy Scouts of America can exclude homosexual kids from this moral organization. Since than, the homosexual activist has been bullying and harressing the Boy Scouts of America by asking cities, companies to not Support the Boy scouts of America. There were harresment of all kind against this moral organization. Today, the Boy Scouts of America has voted to accept this "perversion of God's creation" into their organization. I wouldn't be surprise that there will be a mass exodus of boys scouts units as it was in Canada.
on May 23,2013 | 03:34PM
niimi wrote:
I think as long as no issues happen in the tents all of this tension will go away. Otherwise there will be fallout going the other way.
on May 23,2013 | 04:15PM
Kahu Matu wrote:
So either way the homosexual activists win. Attack the Boy Scouts and bully them, wearing them down, through money and organizations. Then attack the scouts and families until you wear them down and ultimately everyone gets tired of being labeled and name called for being something they are not, such as hateful, bigoted, homophobic. When the activists control the conversation, nothing good will come of it.
on May 23,2013 | 05:25PM
Anonymous wrote:
why dont the mahus start their own scout club, "The Rainbow Brigade" or something, Rather than being a cancer and wanting to destroy everything to do with a normal heterosexual lifestyle.
on May 23,2013 | 05:09PM
Kahu Matu wrote:
They want to destroy all organizations they don't like or agree with, therefore slowly erode and destroy the scouts until they are nothing.
on May 23,2013 | 05:20PM
64hoo wrote:
the girl scouts caved in already.they allow lesbians, took out god and country in there oath and wear t shirts that support the planned parent hood by wearing shirts that say pro choice that nancy pelosie already cheered them on. so I don't by girl scout cookies no more or support them because they turned there back on god and country but there still life there is now a group called the American heritage girls that have 425 troops in 46 states and there motto is of god and country. a lot of ex girl scouts are joining the American heritage girls that stand for the value of life. I hope the same thing happens where the boy scouts leave the scouts and make new troops across the US American heritage boys. GOD BLESS THE USA. Amen.
on May 23,2013 | 08:39PM
Kahu Matu wrote:
Did not know that but I will also encourage my daughter to look into the US American Heritage.
on May 23,2013 | 10:27PM
64hoo wrote:
on google just type in you tube American heritage girls and look for you tube video click on that and watch it. its a video by wild bill for America. pretty darn interesting.
on May 23,2013 | 10:42PM
64hoo wrote:
the video was made 4 months ago before this news of the boy scouts fiasco
on May 23,2013 | 10:49PM
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