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Boy Scouts of America Votes to Allow Gay Scouts
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On Thursday, the Boy Scouts of America ended its policy of banning openly gay children and teens from participating in scouting. The decision was voted on by 1,400 volunteer leaders, and is expected to appease many in the scouting community while isolating others.

Over the last decade, the Boy Scouts of America has maintained a policy that excluded openly gay boys and men from participating in their programs, either as a scout or as a leader. This policy has come under fire over the last decade, as acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle continues to grow throughout the country, leaving many to see the Boy Scouts’ policies as retrograde.

  
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Many, however, feel that because scouts are urged to swear an oath to god and represent traditional American values, that the gay lifestyle should have no place within scouting, and that including gays puts other, heterosexual members at risk.

The decision to allow gay scouts into troops was approved by a vote of 757 to 475, and will take effect on January 1, 2014, at which point gay children and teens will be welcome to join the Boy Scouts of America. The decision does not, however, impact the ban on openly gay adults leading scout troops. “The resolution today dealt with youth,” said Tico Perez, Boy Scouts of America national commissioner, and one of the advocates for reversing the ban on gay youths. “We have not changed our adult membership standards. Those were not on the table.”

The New York Times reports that many conservative churches and parents across the country have said they will drop out of the BSA, and claim that the organization is violating their religious beliefs. “The fallout from this is going to be tremendous,” said Robert Schwarzwalder, the senior vice president of the Family Research Council, and father of two scouts. “I think there will be a loss of hundreds of thousands of boys and parents. This great institution is going to be vitiated by the intrusion of a political agenda.”

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The Times reports that many within the scouting community have begun talks to create a new, more conservative organization to provide boys with the same types of programs separate from the scouts.

Others are welcoming the groups change. Matt Comer, a 27 year-old openly gay man, was kicked out of the Boy Scouts after he started a gay-straight alliance at his school.  He told the New York Times that he felt vindicated, as he had always dreamed of becoming an Eagle Scout.



Still others in the gay community feel that the decision does not go far enough, and that the BSA’s ban on openly gay scout leaders is still an enormous issue that must be overcome. The group’s refusal to address the issue during the vote is still viewed as an enormous obstacle for overall acceptance of gay and lesbian scouting enthusiasts.



 

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