Boy Scouts of America drop “gay ban”

It’s a landmark decision. In the face of Christian fundamentalist threats to sabotage funding, and other pressures, the Boy Scouts of America organisation has voted to welcome openly gay scouts, ending a long-time  ban.  And, the ban was voted out in Texas, part of the ‘Bible belt of America’.

But a ban on openly gay adult scout leaders will remain in place.

More than 60% of the national council, with 1,400 voting members, supported the change at a meeting in Texas. The change is effective on 1 January.

The campaign over the ban pitted conservatives, especially religious groups that sponsor local scouting chapters, against liberals opposed to what they deem outdated discrimination.

The resolution repealing the 22-year-old ban “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,” the Boy Scouts of America said in a statement.

“While people have different opinions about this policy, we can all agree that kids are better off when they are in Scouting.”

The issue was put to the organisation’s national board in February, but a decision was delayed until the larger council could decide.

Risking donor appeal?

“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 Rich Ferraro, spokesman for gay rights group Glaad.

But Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention executive committee, said he was saddened by the development.

 Opposing groups called upon young scouts to protest against the inclusion of openly gay boys, and though the ‘ban’ may be lifted, it does not follow that the organisation woud automaticallynbecome ‘gay friendly’.

“Homosexual behavior is incompatible with the principles enshrined in the Scout oath and Scout law,” Page said.

In the organisation’s 1911 Scouts oath, members pledge: “On my honor I will do my best…. to keep myself physically strong, mentally alert and morally straight.”

“What has ‘being morally straight’ to do with sexual orientation? Aren’t LGBT people upright and outstanding citizens?” liberals ask.

Some within the scouting movement were concerned conservative and religious groups would withdraw financial support if the ban were lifted.

But many liberal groups also hoped the ban on gay adult leaders would go, finding it absurd that openly gay teenage scouts would have to leave the organisation upon reaching adulthood.

 

The Boy Scouts of America, founded in 1910, has about 2.6 million young members, down from a peak of around 4 million, and about 1 million adult leaders and volunteers.

As recently as July 2012, the Boy Scouts concluded that its long-standing ban on gay scouts was “the best policy for the organisation”.

In 2000, the organisation went to the US Supreme Court, saying its policy of “morally straight” conduct fell within its right to freedom of expression.

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Posted by on May 24, 2013. Filed under Breaking News,RAINBOW,USA. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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