Boy Scouts Votes to Lift Ban on Gay Members, Retain Ban on Gay Leaders

At their convention in Dallas, the 1,400 voting members of The Boy Scouts of America have voted 61% to 38% to approve a resolution lifting a ban on gay scouts. The ban would remain on gay leaders.

BsaYou can read the resolution that was voted on today here.

The Boy Scouts of America Statement:

"For 103 years, the Boy Scouts of America has been a part of the fabric of this nation, with a focus on working together to deliver the nation's foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training.

"Based on growing input from within the Scouting family, the BSA leadership chose to conduct an additional review of the organization's long-standing membership policy and its impact on Scouting's mission. This review created an outpouring of feedback from the Scouting family and the American public, from both those who agree with the current policy and those who support a change.

"Today, following this review, the most comprehensive listening exercise in Scouting's history the approximate 1,400 voting members of the Boy Scouts of America's National Council approved a resolution to remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone. The resolution also reinforces that Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting. A change to the current membership policy for adult leaders was not under consideration; thus, the policy for adults remains in place. The BSA thanks all the national voting members who participated in this process and vote.

"This policy change is effective Jan. 1, 2014, allowing the Boy Scouts of America the transition time needed to communicate and implement this policy to its approximately 116,000 Scouting units.

"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. As the National Executive Committee just completed a lengthy review process, there are no plans for further review on this matter.

"While people have different opinions about this policy, we can all agree that kids are better off when they are in Scouting. Going forward, our Scouting family will continue to focus on reaching and serving youth in order to help them grow into good, strong citizens. America's youth need Scouting, and by focusing on the goals that unite us, we can continue to accomplish incredible things for young people and the communities we serve."

Reactions from GLAAD and the Scouting allies who have been on the ground in Dallas:

"Today's vote is a significant victory for gay youth across the nation and a clear indication that the Boy Scouts' ban on gay adult leaders will also inevitably end," said GLAAD spokesperson, Rich Ferraro. "The Boy Scouts of America heard from religious leaders, corporate sponsors and so many Scouting families who want an end to discrimination against gay people, and GLAAD will continue this work with those committed to equality in Scouting until gay parents and adults are able to participate."

"When I was kicked out of the Boy Scouts last April, I was devastated." said Ohio mom Jennifer Tyrrell, who in April 2012, alongside GLAAD, reignited a national conversation about discrimination in Scouting after she was ousted as leader of her son's Cub Scout pack because she's gay. "Having to look my son, Cruz, in the eye and tell him that our family isn't good enough was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. Today is truly a watershed moment for me, but even more so for the millions of kids across this country, who will now be allowed to serve in the Scouts without fear of rejection. I'm so proud of how far we've come, but until there's a place for everyone in Scouting, my work will continue."

"This is an historic day in the 103-year history of the Boy Scouts of America -- the day it finally found its moral compass and started down the long trail to equality in Scouting," said former Kentucky father Greg Bourke, who was ousted as Scoutmaster of his son's Boy Scouts troop because he is gay. "No longer will gay Boy Scouts have to hide their sexual orientation from fear of being criticized and ousted from the Boy Scout membership rolls. That is definite progress, but even with this approved membership change, gay adults like Jennifer Tyrrell and myself will continue to be banned from serving in the Scouts, even in units with our own children. There is no other word for that except 'discrimination.'"

Andresen"We are relieved to hear that other Scouts will not have to suffer the rejection and expulsion that Ryan experienced, and we’re glad to see that the BSA is finally starting to see how harmful its discriminatory policies have been," said Eric Andresen, who along with his wife Karen, launched a petition on in support of their son Ryan. "Had this policy been in place just 8 months ago, Ryan would already be an Eagle Scout, and he could've avoided so much pain."

"Just a few hours ago, I was thinking that today could be my last day as a Boy Scout. Obviously, for gay Scouts like me, this vote is life-changing," said Pascal Tessier, whose petition on received more than 128,000 signatures. “Like my brother before me, I now have a chance to earn my Eagle award -- something that’s taken most of my life to achieve. Finally, Scouts are no longer forced to choose between upholding the Scout Oath and being open and honest about who they really are as a person."

“Today’s vote ending discrimination of gay Scouts is truly a historic moment and demonstrates the Boy Scouts of America’s commitment to creating a more inclusive organization,” said Zach Wahls, Eagle Scout and Founder of Scouts for Equality. “Scouts for Equality is honored to be a part of the movement that has achieved a tremendous victory towards the fight for equality in America and we are proud to call ourselves Scouts. We look forward to the day where we can celebrate inclusion of all members and are committed to continuing our work until that occurs.”

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  1. Not to sound like a downer , but it's like not really a victory to me. I mean, having a bunch of gay kids left with no gay adults to protect them is asking for trouble to me.

    Posted by: JP | May 23, 2013 6:15:43 PM

  2. My family still not welcome.

    Posted by: David R. | May 23, 2013 6:17:13 PM

  3. That's putting a shine on it. Use the same writer for The Supreme Court decisions.

    Posted by: Gary | May 23, 2013 6:23:42 PM

  4. Aha! Perfect work-around to allow gay adults as Scout leaders! Name change! Just call them Catholic Priests! Problem solved!

    Posted by: Geoff | May 23, 2013 6:30:10 PM

  5. Yeah, it's half a loaf and not surprising at all. They did it because money talks and they were losing too many corporate sponsors. They figure, let's get the gay kids in, but still call them pedophiles when they turn 18 - maybe with this compromise we can get back some $$$.

    Hopefully the pressure will stay on... this is just a cynical ploy on their part...

    Posted by: Gerry | May 23, 2013 6:33:40 PM

  6. So the BSA remains a bigoted organisation, just moderately less bigoted?

    Posted by: MaryM | May 23, 2013 6:33:41 PM

  7. Seems like a f'ed up answer. Isn't it a worse message to say "this behavior is tolerated in kids but not in adults."?

    Posted by: sfjerry | May 23, 2013 6:34:44 PM

  8. It’s life changing until you turn 18.

    Posted by: PE | May 23, 2013 6:38:17 PM

  9. and then your life will change again.

    Posted by: PE | May 23, 2013 6:38:32 PM

  10. The OBVIOUS hidden agenda here is for the "straight" scout leaders to be trained to identify gay scouts and inform their parents and make their lives a living hell.

    Posted by: Bob | May 23, 2013 6:41:07 PM

  11. I'm very glad to see this. Sure, it's a first step but it won't be the last one. Give it a bit more time and this policy will be modified once again. When folks see that their friends and sons get turned away from BSA once they turn 18 this policy will fall. My guess is that the leadership knows this and have chosen the best path to get there bearing in mind how many conservative religious groups sponsor their troops.

    Posted by: JohnAGJ | May 23, 2013 6:42:56 PM

  12. Since when is GLAAD a credible source of gay rights commentary? GLAAD is celebrity-central, and lacks credibility.

    Posted by: brian | May 23, 2013 6:45:57 PM

  13. not having gone beyond Cub Scouts, is it normal for all of the 'leaders' to come from the ranks of the scouts themselves? if this is the case, their decision really doesn't make sense. the age requirement to become a 'leader' is 21. do they think that the magical #21 kids turn into 'monsters' or 'provocateurs' or what? this is really a bizarre decision.

    of course, in effect they endorsing a Boy Scouts DADT.....

    Posted by: mike/ | May 23, 2013 6:48:37 PM

  14. Imagine the thousands of young gay boys putting down their Barbie's and joining The Boy Scouts. One last chance -- to be straight. Thank you!

    Posted by: Gary | May 23, 2013 6:49:04 PM

  15. Is it ideal? Hell no. But at the moment I'm seeing it as a glass-half-full rather than half-empty.

    Think about it. Only a YEAR ago I didn't think it would ever go this far, especially considering the influence of the Catholic and Mormon churches on the BSA. Part of it no doubt WAS motivated by declining corporate sponsorship but this wasn't a closed-door decision made by a handful of religious ideologues with political gamesmanship in mind, but by MANY rank and file leaders from across the country and we WON!!!! That's awesome.

    Yes the ban on gay parent and other gay adult participation is bad but that's the next fight. Enjoy this victory while you can, Debbie Downers! IMO it was the ban on gay YOUTH that was most important, for kids not to get kicked out for their merely being gay. Many troops across the country signaled their desire to do away with the policy so all these dire predictions of gay scout torment and "reparative therapy" attempts are mostly nothing but exaggeration and drama.

    Posted by: Caliban | May 23, 2013 6:53:12 PM

  16. I am a former Scout. This is at least a nice first step. It gives all kids who want to participate the opportunity to do so. I see it as a huge victory.

    Posted by: Brian in Texas | May 23, 2013 6:54:06 PM

  17. Wow, what a lot of hypocrisy and negativism here people...

    Things will evolve, but as history and society has proven it will do so not at OUR wish, but on its own.

    Let's enjoy the this victory and get ready for the next steps.... a lot has been accomplished lately, and it won't stop here.

    Try to be happy guys. Let's make people who fought for this feel like we have their backs and we value their efforts.

    Posted by: ElCid | May 23, 2013 6:57:23 PM

  18. They want 10 years to make ex-gay scouts. If they havent successfully knocked the gays out of you, you’re out.

    Posted by: PE | May 23, 2013 6:57:53 PM

  19. @Caliban -- I think it's great, too! I agree that the adult ban will fall in good time.
    However, it WAS the catholic and mormon churches that made it pass. Both groups realize that they were singling out boys within families for exclusion, which could cost them members, and both need the good publicity.
    The mormons are said to emphasize fitting into the mormonity more than they push regular Scout skills. They use Scouting to keep the boys mormon

    Posted by: Bob | May 23, 2013 6:59:53 PM

  20. Get someone to film the reactions of the 'quiver full' Goode parents as their heads explode.

    Posted by: JONES | May 23, 2013 7:00:41 PM

  21. This reminds me of that original Star Trek episode where the crew lands on a planet where there are only kids; the reason being that once they become 18, they get a deathly disease. Innocently gay until you're 18, then you become a raging horrible monster. Well, I guess they'd know....look at what happened to the straights who voted: not exactly sweet and innocent after the age of 18 either--projection much? Well, we're prettier,have better style, make prettier bows, have better manners, and...well, everthing! Who need 'em?

    Posted by: woodroad34d | May 23, 2013 7:11:14 PM

  22. Getting video of someone's "head exploding." That's where Jones is coming from. No badges for that.

    Posted by: Gary | May 23, 2013 7:11:28 PM

  23. It was far and away NOT the catholic or mormon churches which got this passed. How ludicrous. These two 'faiths' have been the antithesis of equality for generations.

    It was grassroots kids collecting petition signatures, gay scout kids telling their stories and raising public awareness and businesses with equality policies withholding donations that forced the BSA board hands.

    Posted by: JONES | May 23, 2013 7:11:53 PM

  24. @Gary
    No badge needed.
    'Expolding heads' is a political euphemism.
    Suggest you watch the video of the Goode parents here at Towleroad before judging.

    Posted by: JONES | May 23, 2013 7:17:25 PM

  25. The after-18 policy isn't going to fall anytime soon unless there's litigation. That's just how it is. This "compromise" is clearly as far as the BSA will go. Religious organizations OK'd this "compromise". They will not OK 18+ gay/bi individuals in the Scouts. The majority of adults in the BSA did not OK it.

    The Scouts are still essentially homophobic, these gay/bi youth are incredibly vulnerable unless there's direct and outright policy and training on this issue, which I'm assuming there won't be considering the statements from the Scouts that have been basically "discussions of sexuality has no place in the Scouts." And by 18, gay youth are kicked out of the Scouts so it's basically a set up for future embarrassment, only now the timeline isn't at 13 years old, it's at 18. Lastly the whole "sexual orientation ALONE is not reason to discriminate" is code word for saying that gay/bi youth are expected to be celibate. Love the sinner, hate the sin all over again.

    It's a step forward but it's a step from disaster to bad. Still, I'm happy because it's the 12-17 years where kids are really developing into their own skin and gay/bi kids now know they don't have to fear being kicked out of the Scouts if they come out.

    Posted by: Francis #1 | May 23, 2013 7:17:41 PM

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