Boy Scouts Lift Ban On Openly Gay Members – Ban On Gay Leaders Remains
The Boy Scouts of America National Council voted Thursday to lift a century-old ban on openly gay scouts. A vote of 757 “yes” to 475 “no” lifted the ban, but there was no vote concerning the ban on gay leaders; that policy will remain in place.
The Boy Scouts of America organization had faced pressure from both sides of the polarizing national debate on gay rights in the United States. Gay rights activists and corporate sponsors pushed for lifting the ban while conservative churches and faith-based groups were hoping the Scouts would stick to their traditional values.
While 70% of the group’s 100,000 units are chartered by faith-based groups, not all such organizations supported the ban. The Mormon Church and United Methodist Church, who together charter around 49,000 troops, supported an end to the ban. The Catholic Church, which sponsors 8,400 troops, has taken no stance on Thursdays vote but has supported the ban in the past. The Southern Baptist Convention supported the ban as well.
In a February poll, a majority of teen Scout members were shown to oppose the ban on openly gay members and leaders and supported the idea of allowing chartered organizations to follow their own beliefs. However, the same poll found that 61% of adult members supported both bans.
Conservative who opposed lifting the ban on openly gay Scouts protested outside the Grapevine, Texas meeting place where the vote was held. Many said they would no longer support the Boy Scouts of America or allow their children to participate. The head of the Florida Family Policy Council, John Stemberger, said conservatives plan to meet in Louisville, Kentucky next month to discuss the possibility of forming a new youth group that will uphold conservative values.