In a historic change, the Boy Scouts of America lifted its national ban on gay adult leaders, leading to debate within the organization. Monday’s vote shifts the possibility of discrimination onto the local scout groups and those supported by religious organizations. Local scout groups retain the right to set their own policies on whether to allow gay men to lead scouts.
The vote by the BSOA’s 71-member board came after a plea in May by Boy Scouts of America President Robert Gates, a former defense secretary under the Obama Administration. The Scouts’ 17-member executive committee earlier this month unanimously approved a resolution to end a blanket ban on gay adult leaders and let individual scout units set their own policy on the long-divisive issue. With Monday’s vote, the change becomes official policy, effective immediately. The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints, which sponsors more Scout units that any other organization, said in a statement that it was “deeply troubled” by the decision. The historic decision protects the Boy Scouts organization from lawsuits. The BSOA’s executive committee approved early July a resolution to end a blanket ban on gay adult leaders and let local chapters set their own policy on the long-controversial issue.