US Boy Scouts approves allowing gay adults as leaders

Big step toward dismantling policy that has caused deep rifts in 105-year-old organisation

Boy Scouts participating in New York’s Gay Pride parade last month. Photograph: James Estrin/The New York Times

Boy Scouts participating in New York’s Gay Pride parade last month. Photograph: James Estrin/The New York Times

 

The Boy Scouts of America executive committee has unanimously approved allowing gay adults to serve as leaders, in a major step toward dismantling a policy that has caused deep rifts in the 105-year-old organisation.

The group’s national executive board will meet to ratify the resolution on July 27th, the Boy Scouts said in a statement.

“This resolution will allow chartered organisations to select adult leaders without regard to sexual orientation, continuing scouting’s long-standing policy of chartered organisations selecting their leaders,” it said.

The resolution approved by the committee on Friday follows a US supreme court ruling in June to allow same-sex marriage nationwide and a call in May from the Boy Scouts president, former US defence secretary Robert Gates, who said the ban on gay leadership needed to change.

The Boy Scouts said in the statement the move reflected “the rapid changes in society and increasing legal challenges at the federal, state and local levels”.

The announcement was welcomed by an activist seeking an end to the long-standing policy.

“The Boy Scouts of America’s ban on gay adults has stood as a towering example of explicit, institutional homophobia in one of America’s most important and recognisable civic organisations,” said Zach Wahls, an eagle scout and executive director of Scouts for Equality.

The Irving, Texas-based organisation lifted its ban on gay youth in 2013 but continues to prohibit the participation of openly gay adults. The selection last year of Mr Gates as president of the Boy Scouts was seen as an opportunity to revisit the policy.

Mr Gates, as secretary of defence, helped end the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that barred openly gay individuals from serving in the military.

Earlier, corporate sponsors such as Lockheed Martin and Intel dropped funding from the Boy Scouts in protest at policies considered discriminatory. – (Reuters)