On Thursday, May 23, 2013, the Boy Scouts of America National Council voted to ease a long-standing ban and allow openly gay boys to be accepted as scouts. But, as WYSO’s Jerry Kenney reports, not all of the controversial issue was settled.
About 1,400 voting members of nation's leading youth organization, cast their ballots at an annual meeting in Dallas, Texas. More than 60 percent of those voting supported the proposal to life the ban.
Gay adults will still be barred from serving as Scout leaders, and debate around that will likely continue in the months, maybe years to come, but Doug Nelson – Scout Executive with the Miami Valley Council – says with yesterday’s ruling, the Scouts can focus on their true mission.
Nelson believes the vote will “[Allow] us to unite as a scouting family and allow all youth the opportunity to be a part of the scouting program and benefit from the many things scouting has to offer. I think that there are those probably still who believe that the leadership standard for adults could, or should be changed, and that’s a discussion for another day.”
The 1400 Voting delegates, and another 1500 or so scouting volunteers first gathered Wednesday night to express their viewpoints on the issue. Then, Thursday, they got back together for the official membership meeting, where they voted on the resolution to lift the ban.
Nelson says that when the result of the vote was announced, the reaction was palpable, stating, “The Boy Scouts have been involved in a process related to this topic since, you know, late January, early February and I think the reaction I felt in the room today was more a sense of relief that the decision has been made and we can all get back to doing what we do best, which is affecting the lives of young people in a positive with the scouting program.”
With yesterday’s decision will come criticisms that the resolution went too far, or that it didn’t go far enough, and the scouts could see their donor levels affected as well. Of the more than 100,000 Scouting units in the U.S., 70 percent are chartered by religious institutions.