The Boy Scouts of America on Wednesday began accepting openly gay youth, a historic policy change that affects the scouting ranks, however the ban on gay scout leaders remains in effect.
At its National Council’s annual meeting last May, the Boy Scouts adopted a resolution “to remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone.”
The policy change, supported by 60 percent of the 1,400 voting members of the BSA’s National Council, took effect January 1st.
Under the new membership policy, youths can no longer be barred from the Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts or coed Venturers program on the basis of sexual orientation. However, gay Scouts will face some limitations.
“Any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting,” says one BSA document. “No member may use Scouting to promote or advance any social or political position or agenda, including on the matter of sexual orientation.”
Trying to anticipate potential friction, the BSA has distributed extensive explanations and question-and-answer documents related to the policy.