YES! YES! YES! It is my extreme pleasure to pass along the amazing news that the Boy Scouts of America has voted to allow openly gay members into their organization!! More than 1,400 volunteer leaders around the country voted today and passed by about 60% a measure to allow gay members to join the BSA. Now, keep in mind, the organization still bans openly gay leaders (ie. adults) from working with the Boy Scouts but allowing gay teenagers into the organization is a huge step in the right direction! Yay!!
In a landmark step its chief executive called “compassionate, caring and kind,” the Boy Scouts of America on Thursday ended its longstanding policy of forbidding openly gay youths to participate in its activities. The decision, which followed years of resistance and wrenching internal debate, was widely seen as a milestone for the Boy Scouts, a symbol of traditional America. More than 1,400 volunteer leaders from across the country voted, with more than 60 percent approving a measure that said no youth may be denied membership “on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.” The top national leaders of the Boy Scouts had urged the change in the face of vehement opposition from conservative parents and volunteers, some of whom said they would quit the organization. But the decision also put the scouts more in tune with the swift rise in public acceptance of homosexuality, especially among younger parents who are essential to the future of an institution that has been losing members for decades. But the decision is unlikely to bring peace to the Boy Scouts as they struggle to keep a foothold in a swirling cultural landscape, ensuring continued lobbying and debate in the months and year to come. The group put off the even more divisive question of whether to allow openly gay adults and leaders, and those on both sides of the debate predicted that, with the resolution’s passage, the Boy Scouts would soon be forced to start allowing gay adults, whether by lawsuits or embarrassment at the twisted logic of forcing an Eagle Scout who turns 18 to quit. Gay rights advocates called the decision a breakthrough but vowed to continue pressing the scouts to allow gay members of all ages. Some conservative churches and parents said the scouts were violating their oath to be “morally straight” and said they would drop out. Still, for gay men who were forced out of scouting and their allies, thousands of whom joined the push for change, the opening of membership was more than welcome.
As a former Boy Scout and gay man, I can’t express what this means to me … but more importantly, what it means to the number of gay kids who are already Boy Scouts but have been forced to keep silent for fear of expulsion from the group. The truth of the matter is that no matter how vehemently opposed some homophobic people are to the BSA allowing gay members, nothing can be done to stop the tide of progress that we are experiencing in this country. We’re here, we’re queer and the haters are just going to have to get used to it. No matter how hard they try to enforce their hatred, gay people aren’t going anywhere. I applaud the members of the BSA who voted to approve this measure and I have every confidence that they will also allow gay leaders into the organization as well some day (especially those 18-year old Eagle Scout members). It’s a matter of time. It’s just a matter of time. This is exceedingly happy news, well done Scouts!