On 1 January, the Boy Scouts of America will begin to accept openly gay members. While the policy change is historic, BSA representatives expect little change.
‘My hope is there will be the same effect this Jan. 1 as the Y2K scare,’ Brad Haddock, a BSA national executive board member, who also chairs the policy implementation committee, said to the Associated Press. ‘It’s business as usual, nothing happens and we move forward.’
This past May the BSA’s 1,400-member National Council passed the modification with a 61 % vote.
Next week’s standards will state that ‘no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.’
However, there continues to be a ban on LGBTI adult leaders and volunteers.
While some conservatives have formed an alternative called Trail Life USA, Haddock insists there has been no significant drop in memberships. Even sponsors like the Catholic and Mormon churches are staying connected to the Scouts.
‘There hasn’t been a whole lot of fallout,’ Haddock said. ‘If a church said they wouldn’t work with us, we’d have a church right down the street say, "We’ll take the troop."’
In preparation the organization has distributed guidelines that deal with everything, including if a Scout can wear a uniform while marching in a pride parade to how politically vocal members can be in terms of gay rights.
‘While a youth member may acknowledge his or her sexual preference, that acknowledgment may not reach the level of distraction, which may include advocacy, promotion, or the distribution of information of a sexual nature,’ the regulations state.
The upcoming year will also bring change at the top of Scout leadership. This upcoming May, former US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will follow present head Wayne Perry.
Gates, who served under Presidents George Bush and Barack Obama, guided the military in dismantling Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, a policy which prevented gay and lesbian personnel from serving openly. Congress repealed the ban in 2010 and it was lifted in 2011.