But the organization plans to continue excluding gay adults.
The Associated Press is reporting that the Boy Scouts of America will lift its ban on openly gay youth members, but continue excluding gay adult leaders, pending approval from the national board. If the board votes to accept the resolution at its annual meeting next month, “no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.”
That’s an improvement over the B.S.A.’s January proposal to leave the decision up to local scouting groups, though short of a fully non-discriminatory policy. Today’s half-measure — kids yes, adults no — is irrational. Does the B.S.A. subscribe to the repugnant idea that gay adults are more likely to prey on children? It also sends an odd message to gay youths, who know that they, unlike their straight counterparts, can’t lead scouts when they grow up.
The BSA recently sent a survey to members, requesting responses to hypothetical situations, like “Tom started in the program as a Tiger Cub, and finished every requirement for the Eagle Scout Award at 16 years of age. At his board of review Tom reveals that he is gay. Is it acceptable or unacceptable for the review board to deny his Eagle Scout award based on that admission?”
Another scenario read, “A gay male troop leader, along with another adult leader, is taking a group of boys on a camping trip following the youth protection guidelines of two-deep leadership. Is it acceptable or unacceptable for the gay adult leader to take adolescent boys on an overnight camping trip?”
Survey responses were due April 4.
Meanwhile, the organization has been under tremendous outside pressure to change its policies. Several corporations, including UPS, Merck and Intel, recently dropped funding for the organization over its ban.
Today’s announcement will almost certainly provoke a backlash from social conservatives. Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, lamented yesterday that the B.S.A. “may be losing its way” and blamed “corporate elites and gay activists” of exploiting the organization “for the purpose of sexualized political correctness.”