Boy Scout Delegates Vote 61-38 to Allow Gay Scouts (But Not Adults)

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Just hours ago, the approximately 1400 voting members of the Boy Scouts of America's National Council adopted a change in policy that would allow gay scouts to be members by a margin of 61%-38%. Gay adults would still be ineligible to serve, leaving BSA exposed to criticism from both conservative and LGBT advocates as well as opening itself up to new legal vulnerabilities according to some.

The policy will become effective January 1, 2014. The National Committee additionally noted that because of the expansive process involved, it has “no plans to further review this matter.”

“Based on growing input from within the Scouting family, the BSA leadership chose to conduct an additional review of the organization's long-standing membership policy and its impact on Scouting's mission. This review created an outpouring of feedback from the Scouting family and the American public, from both those who agree with the current policy and those who support a change.

“Today, following this review, the most comprehensive listening exercise in Scouting's history the approximate 1,400 voting members of the Boy Scouts of America's National Council approved a resolution to remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone. The resolution also reinforces that Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting. A change to the current membership policy for adult leaders was not under consideration; thus, the policy for adults remains in place. The BSA thanks all the national voting members who participated in this process and vote.

Read the full statement from BSA.

The public at large has been polled about this outcome.  

In the new poll, 63 percent of Americans support allowing gay scouts to join, and the public opposes the plan to continue to ban gay adults from Boy Scout leadership by a 56 to 39 percent margin. The results contrast with a USA Today/Gallup poll last year, where only 42 percent said openly gay adults should be able to serve as leaders.

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