Boy Scout board approves end to blanket ban on gay adult leaders

NEW YORK (AP) — The Boy Scouts of America on Monday ended its blanket ban on gay adult leaders while allowing church-sponsored Scout units to maintain the exclusion for religious reasons.

The new policy, aimed at easing a controversy that has embroiled the Boy Scouts for years, takes effect immediately. It was approved by the BSA’s National Executive Board on a 45-12 vote during a closed-to-the-media teleconference.

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates addresses the Boy Scouts of America's annual meeting in Nashville, Tenn. after being selected as the organization's new president. The Boy Scouts of America on Monday, July 27, 2015, ended its blanket ban on gay adult leaders while allowing church-sponsored Scout units to maintain the exclusion for religious reasons, Nashville, Tenn., May 23, 2014 | AP File Photo by Mark Zaleski, St. George News
Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates addresses the Boy Scouts of America’s annual meeting in Nashville, Tenn. after being selected as the organization’s new president. The Boy Scouts of America on Monday, July 27, 2015, ended its blanket ban on gay adult leaders while allowing church-sponsored Scout units to maintain the exclusion for religious reasons, Nashville, Tenn., May 23, 2014 | AP File Photo by Mark Zaleski, St. George News

“For far too long this issue has divided and distracted us,” said the BSA’s president, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates. “Now it’s time to unite behind our shared belief in the extraordinary power of Scouting to be a force for good.”

The stage had been set for Monday’s action on May 21 when Gates told the Scouts’ national meeting that the long-standing ban on participation by openly gay adults was no longer sustainable. He said the ban was likely to be the target of lawsuits that the Scouts likely would lose.

Two weeks ago, the new policy was approved unanimously by the BSA’s 17-member National Executive Committee. It would allow local Scout units to select adult leaders without regard to sexual orientation — a stance that several Scout councils have already adopted in defiance of the official national policy.

In 2013, after heated internal debate, the BSA decided to allow openly gay youth as scouts, but not gay adults as leaders. Several denominations that collectively sponsor close to half of all Scout units — including the Roman Catholic church, the Mormon church and the Southern Baptist Convention — have been apprehensive about ending the ban on gay adults.

The BSA’s top leaders have pledged to defend the right of any church-sponsored units to continue excluding gays as adult volunteers. But that assurance has not satisfied some conservative church leaders.

“It’s hard for me to believe, in the long term, that the Boy Scouts will allow religious groups to have the freedom to choose their own leaders,” said the Rev. Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

“In recent years I have seen a definite cooling on the part of Baptist churches toward the Scouts,” Moore said. “This will probably bring that cooling to a freeze.”

Under the BSA’s new policy:

  • Prospective employees of the national organization could no longer be denied a staff position on the basis of sexual orientation
  • Gay leaders who were previously removed from Scouting because of the ban would have the opportunity to reapply for volunteer positions
  • If otherwise qualified, a gay adult would be eligible to serve as a Scoutmaster or unit leader

Gates, who became the BSA’s president in May 2014, said at the time that he personally would have favored ending the ban on gay adults, but he opposed any further debate after the Scouts’ policymaking body upheld the ban. In May, however, he said that recent events “have confronted us with urgent challenges I did not foresee and which we cannot ignore.”

He cited an announcement by the BSA’s New York City chapter in early April that it had hired Pascal Tessier, the nation’s first openly gay Eagle Scout, as a summer camp leader. Gates also cited broader gay-rights developments and warned that rigidly maintaining the ban “will be the end of us as a national movement.”

The BSA faced potential lawsuits in New York and other states if it continued to enforce its ban, which had been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000. Since then, the exclusionary policy has prompted numerous major corporations to suspend charitable donations to the Scouts, and has strained relations with some municipalities that cover gays in their non-discrimination codes.

Stuart Upton, a lawyer for the LGBT-rights group Lambda Legal, questioned whether the BSA’s new policy to let church-sponsored units continue to exclude gay adults would be sustainable.

“There will be a period of time where they’ll have some legal protection,” Upton said. “But that doesn’t mean the lawsuits won’t keep coming. … They will become increasingly marginalized from the direction society is going.”

Like several other major youth organizations, the Boy Scouts have experienced a membership decline in recent decades. Current membership, according to the BSA, is about 2.4 million boys and about 1 million adults.

After the 2013 decision to admit gay youth, some conservatives split from the BSA to form a new group, Trail Life USA, which has created its own ranks, badges and uniforms. The group claims a membership of more than 25,000 youths and adults.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released the following statement Monday regarding the BSA’s vote:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is deeply troubled by today’s vote by the Boy Scouts of America National Executive Board. In spite of a request to delay the vote, it was scheduled at a time in July when members of the Church’s governing councils are out of their offices and do not meet. When the leadership of the Church resumes its regular schedule of meetings in August, the century-long association with Scouting will need to be examined. The Church has always welcomed all boys to its Scouting units regardless of sexual orientation. However, the admission of openly gay leaders is inconsistent with the doctrines of the Church and what have traditionally been the values of the Boy Scouts of America.

As a global organization with members in 170 countries, the Church has long been evaluating the limitations that fully one-half of its youth face where Scouting is not available. Those worldwide needs combined with this vote by the BSA National Executive Board will be carefully reviewed by the leaders of the Church in the weeks ahead.

Story, excepting statement released by the LDS church, by DAVID CRARY, AP National Writer

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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34 Comments

  • St. G July 27, 2015 at 8:18 pm

    Just give moms their Eagle and then move on.

  • fun bag July 27, 2015 at 9:06 pm

    So Mesaman and Native New Mexican can finally become scout leaders?

    • Free Parking July 28, 2015 at 1:36 pm

      Yeah so can REAL LIFE now and he can leave his curlers on he will be so happy

    • mesaman July 28, 2015 at 6:51 pm

      Well, scummy , you’re out early this evening. Mother go out and leave home alone. If she’s smart she’ll just keep running. In the mean time, be careful. You are treading very close to libel per se.

      • 42214 July 29, 2015 at 10:07 am

        Mesa, you really have a Oedipus complex. Everything is momma whomper, mommies panties, baby smacking. If you’re not too senile you should get help.

        • 42214 July 29, 2015 at 11:51 am

          News flash Mesa, being referred to as gay is not libelous, especially in light of the recent SCOTUS decision. It might deeply offend an angry old bigot though. Could this be the case, Oedipus?

  • fun bag July 27, 2015 at 9:18 pm

    When will be let male registered sex offenders be girl scout leaders? Put an end to unfair discrimination!

    • anybody home July 27, 2015 at 10:46 pm

      You must be the oldest kid in the 7th grade.

      • Free Parking July 28, 2015 at 4:23 am

        Chill nobody home he’s joking… Geez

        • Real Life July 28, 2015 at 10:09 am

          You are the voice of reason? LOL!!!

          • Free Parking July 28, 2015 at 1:31 pm

            He dork life you’re the voice of reason LOL.!

    • 42214 July 27, 2015 at 11:56 pm

      When they do I’m sure you’ll be the first to apply

  • izzymuse July 27, 2015 at 11:42 pm

    Whatever religious organization drops the BSA program will save money. The Boy Scouts of America is a money racket. The CEOs of the BSA are payed hundreds of thousands of dollars every year! $$$$

    .
    The program is expensive. Additional to that point, it would be great to see an outdoor program for young men which will focus more on living and leadership skills, survival skills, and more meaningful activities and NOT be involved or focused so much about badges, status, ranks, and/or military mimic crap. Teach young men how to set up camp, get away from their video games, and learn valuable leadership skills which will provide their community with a generation of good citizens.

  • beentheredonethat July 28, 2015 at 1:10 am

    Aren’t the scouts here tied to the lds church?

    • Lastdays July 28, 2015 at 7:48 am

      Uh Yea, just about every religious organization around the country has a scouting troop. The LDS church thought it would be a good idea for the boys a hundred years ago to have this as an activity on the side for them. I’m sure they are re-thinking that involvement right now. And rightly so. Every group, organization or religion should have the right to pick and choose what other private business they want to participate with. Scouting is a HUGE business in Utah. The local scout store makes a ton of money from this activity.

    • Brian July 28, 2015 at 11:40 am

      The vast majority of troops in Utah are ~sponsored~ by LDS wards, but there are still community troops, etc, for those that want to do Scouting in a non-LDS environment. But the BSA has made sponsoring a troop very difficult, so many non-LDS troops have gone away. That may change in the huge vacuum left if the LDS Church chooses to leave the BSA.

  • fun bag July 28, 2015 at 10:19 am

    If there aint already interior decorating, hair styling, and fashion merit badges, let’s get them going, quick.

    • Free Parking July 28, 2015 at 1:39 pm

      Now REAL LIFE will be able to get his knitting and sewing badge

  • Brian July 28, 2015 at 11:37 am

    I’m a life-long Scouter, and love the ideals and values of Scouting. Unfortunately the BSA has turned their back on much of that for political and logistical expediency, and have shown repeatedly what is and is not important to them. Their new slogan seems to be: “BSA, now with 50% more BS”. I’ll support Scouting as long as that is what the LDS Church chooses to align with, but I look forward to them leaving the BSA. I think they’ve stuck with the BSA this long because collectively (Scouting-wide) boys have been better off with Scouting being supported (even if LDS boys would have been better off leaving it years ago). But the BSA has been diluted way too far and it’s time to leave. Leaving the BSA will save incredible amounts of time, frustration, and money at the local level. Friends of Scouting and rechartering are a very hard time of year for those involved, and they unfortunately fall one right after the other. By the time they’re over you’re exhausted. The BSA is now more of a liability than an asset, and that is a very sad commentary on the state of our nation.

  • htown July 28, 2015 at 2:09 pm

    So who will define what “Morally Straight” means in the Scout Oath:
    to my 12 year old son, … the Gay Scout Leader, I don’t think so.

    Scout Oath (or Promise):

    On my honor I will do my best
    To do my duty to God and my country
    and to obey the Scout Law;
    To help other people at all times;
    To keep myself physically strong,
    mentally awake, and morally straight.

    • fun bag July 28, 2015 at 3:42 pm

      They gonna have a lot of re-writin’ do do in that there scout laws manual. Especially them parts about two men together being an abomination in the eyes of god. They may also have to go in and edit the old testament about that part where god destroys the city of sodom. Lotta work to be done with these here new rules

      • 42214 July 28, 2015 at 4:03 pm

        Fun bag,go back to the overtime article. Why did you cut and run? I think we all know.

        • fun bag July 28, 2015 at 4:36 pm

          yes sir, boss. right away!

  • radioviking July 28, 2015 at 4:13 pm

    I’ll be honest and say what most parents are thinking but few are willing to say: I’m not going to have a homosexual take my son camping.

    .
    I have NO problem with adults who choose to live any lifestyle they choose – gay, straight, non-religious or religious, party or clean living, BUT scouts is not about sexuality. It seems that the youth are being used as part of the gay movement agenda. Simple as that. I don’t accuse homosexuals as being pedophiles, but I am saying that Americans need to separate children and youth from adult issues!

    .
    We shouldn’t be mixing children and youth with adult agendas. I feel like this is an exploitation of the young. I care if this is offensive to anyone because at the end of the day I’m responsible for my child. And I don’t answer to the political, institutional and social groups of “modern” culture. We need to do what is right for the youth NOT the adults or leaders! Get a spine people.

    • fun bag July 28, 2015 at 7:24 pm

      maybe only let hermaphrodites and eunuchs be scout masters. Take the sexuality right out of the equation.

      • 42214 July 28, 2015 at 8:40 pm

        Sounds like you fit the profile perfectly Fun Bag

        • Free Parking July 31, 2015 at 10:17 am

          42214 oh heck that’s perfect for you

  • anybody home July 28, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    I think the best thing for everyone in Utah would be for the Mormon Church to follow through on its threat/promise to leave the Boy Scouts and form their own youth program. Mormons don’t like their kids associating with non-Mormon kids anyway so those non-Mormon families who may have a different opinion about gay leaders can remain in the Boy Scouts and form their own troops. More and more I see that it would be best for all for the Mormons to truly isolate themselves from the rest of society They can have their own businesses, social events and other activities and stop pretending they belong to the rest of society. They’d be happier knowing they could say no to non-Mormons who might be interested in participating in those activities, and non-Mormons would not be deceived into believing they’re welcome to participate. Non-Mormons could form their own organizations and activities with fellow non-Mormons. This would put an end to a lot of the hassles in Utah and the Mormons could stop pretending to be loving and kind to non-Mormons. And perhaps also shut the H up about issues they hate and let others live their own lives in peace without judgment.

    • munchie July 28, 2015 at 9:28 pm

      Good call….I’m sure if they could the mormons would create a “separate but equal ” paradise here in “Dixie”

    • fun bag July 28, 2015 at 10:08 pm

      Good idea AH, they could call it the ‘Junior Mormon Militia’ and wear arm bands with a portrait of Joe Smith…

  • mesaman July 28, 2015 at 9:27 pm

    Your first sentence was great but then you had to launch into your usual whiny anti-Mormon drivel. You never miss a chance to show your hatred and disgust towards us. You must have been stupid to come here and totally deranged to stay. Now jump to your last sentence; “And perhaps……and let others live their own lives in peace without judgment.” How hypocritical of you to pass judgment when you denounce those you claim pass judgment on others. Sleep well.

    • anybody home July 29, 2015 at 9:17 am

      MM – I went to Utah with a good heart and an open mind and also with deep Utah roots. My Utah creds, including Mormon creds, were good. But I am not a Mormon myself. It didn’t take long to learn that the life of St. George mostly takes place in the Wards and unless I – and others – could identify with that, we were out in the cold. I joined a couple of organizations, offered to volunteer in various ways because I’ve always been an active volunteer in my community. When one organization expressed a need for help in an area with which I had a lot of good experience, I was greeted with smiles and “oh, great” but nothing came of it. Time and again there were scheduled “meetings” that didn’t happen. I’m kind of slow to realize that people who smile and seem friendly can be as devious and unkind as they are, but I finally caught on that the meetings were happening but a non-Mormon was not included. I realized that it was impossible to lead any kind of normal life in the area unless you had enough money to get out into the rest of the world often for relief. So yes, I did become anti-Mormon, but I don’t write drivel. And I don’t call other people stupid or “totally deranged.” You are apparently a Mormon and the way you address me is pretty much in line with how I found Mormons addressing (with a smile) the non-Mormons I did eventually meet. At least you’re honest and say the words right out.

      I came, MM, because I wanted to know more about the place my mom was born and raised, the place my grandfather and great-grandfather died in one of the worst mining accidents in this country and about other family roots. I learned a lot of other things instead.

      • fun bag July 29, 2015 at 2:47 pm

        poor AH been bullied hard by them mean ol’ mormons

  • Free Parking July 31, 2015 at 10:26 am

    ATTENTION ST GEORGE NEWS. PEOPLE ARE COMMENTING ON THE LDS CHURCH….. better break out editing pen can’t have that going on in here. That might offend somebody.!!!

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