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Boy Scouts of America votes to end ban on gay members age 18 and under

Boy Scouts of America votes to end ban on gay members age 18 and under

The Boy Scouts of America will begin allowing openly gay members to be a part of the organization beginning next year.

The BSA’s approximately 1,400-member National Council on Thursday (23 May) met in Grapevine, Texas and 61.4% voted to pass the new membership standards.

The new standards state that ‘no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.’

But a ban on LGBT adult leaders and volunteers will remain in place without any further review planned.

‘The Boy Scouts of America will not sacrifice its mission, or the youth served by the movement, by allowing the organization to be consumed by a single, divisive, and unresolved societal issue,’ the BSA said in a statement. ‘As the National Executive Committee just completed a lengthy review process, there are no plans for further review on this matter.

GLAAD spokesperson Rich Ferraro, whose organization played a leading role in the fight to end the ban, said after the vote: ‘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.’

Ferraro added: ‘The Boy Scouts of America heard from religious leaders, corporate sponsors and so many Scouting families who want an end to discrimination against gay people, and GLAAD will continue this work with those committed to equality in Scouting until gay parents and adults are able to participate.’

L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center CEO Lorri L. Jean issued a statement shortly after the ruling calling it ‘cowardly, offensive and obviously calculated.’

‘They cannot escape the moral condemnation of fair-minded people simply because they’ve set an age limit on when their discrimination begins,’ Jean said. ‘In this day and age, it is neither acceptable nor progress for the BSA to allow gay boys to participate as scouts for a few years, only to harshly expel them from any involvement the moment they turn 18. The damning and toxic message to youth is the same either way.’

The BSA said the policy change is not effective until 1 January 2014 because the organization needs the transition time to communicate and implement the new policy to its approximately 116,000 Scouting units.