May 23, 2013

Boy Scouts vote to accept gay boys

But the ban on gay Scout leaders remains in place, continuing the debate over membership policy.

The Associated Press

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Former scout maser Mark Noel, of Hanover, N.H., holds up a new merit badge of inclusion during a news conference at the Equal Scouting Summit being held near where the Boy Scouts of America were holding their annual meeting Wednesday in Grapevine, Texas.

The Associated Press

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Boy Scouts from right, Joey Kalich, 10, Steven Grime, 7, and Jonathon Grime, 9, raise their hands at the close of a news conference held by people against the change in the Boy Scouts of America policy on gay scouts Wednesday in Grapevine, Texas.

The Associated Press

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"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.

Since the executive committee just completed a lengthy review process, there were "no plans for further review on this matter," the group added, indicating it would not be revisiting the ban on gay adults anytime soon.

Among those voting for the proposal to accept openly gay youths was Thomas Roberts of Dawsonville, Ga., who serves on the board of a Scout council in northeast Georgia.

"It was a very hard decision for this organization," he said. "I think ultimately it will be viewed as the right thing."

The BSA's overall "traditional youth membership" -- Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts and Venturers -- is now about 2.6 million, compared with more than 4 million in peak years of the past. It also has about 1 million adult leaders and volunteers.

Of the more than 100,000 Scouting units in the United States, 70 percent are chartered by religious institutions.

Those include liberal churches opposed to any ban on gays, but some of the largest sponsors are relatively conservative denominations that have previously supported the broad ban -- notably the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Southern Baptist churches.

While the Southern Baptists were clearly upset by the vote to accept openly gay youth, the Mormon church reacted positively. "We trust that BSA will implement and administer the approved policy in an appropriate and effective manner," an official LDS statement said.

 

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