By Alex Temblador
On Friday, the executive committee of the Boys Scouts of America voted unanimously to lift the ban on gay and bisexual adults as Boy Scouts leaders. Unlike its counterpart, Girl Scouts, who have welcomed transgender girls into their ranks, the Boy Scouts of America has always been conservative in its inclusivity of the LGBT community. This is due in part that 70% of BSA units are supported by religious organizations.
Unfortunately, the executive committee’s vote does not lift the ban on gay and bisexual adult leaders…yet. Now this policy change will go to the BSA National Executive Board for a vote on July 27th. If the National Executive Board votes in favor of lifting the ban, the policy change will be put into effect immediately.
So what would it mean if the ban on gay and bisexual leaders was lifted? Rather than make this a policy change in all BSA units across the United States, each scout unit would be able to determine their own policy “regarding the eligibility of openly gay or bisexual scoutmasters or other adult leaders.” Essentially, by lifting the ban, it would not necessarily mean that every unit in the U.S. would approve of gay or bisexual adult leaders, but it does make it possible, a huge step for the BSA. Those gay and bisexual adult leaders that had been removed from their positions would also be able to reapply.
Lastly, by lifting this ban, BSA announced that it would also “prohibit regional governing councils or non-Troop entities such as boy scouts camps from discriminating against employees and volunteers based on their sexual orientation.”
In regards to the announcement, Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout and the Executive Director of Scouts for Equality, said:
“For decades, the Boy Scouts of America’s ban on gay adults has stood as a towering example of explicit, institutional homophobia in one of America’s most important and recognizable civic organizations. While this policy change is not perfect—BSA’s religious chartering partners will be allowed to continue to discriminate against gay adults—it is difficult to overstate the importance of today’s announcement.”
This policy change would be an amazing achievement for the Boy Scouts of America. In the last few years they have slowly been working toward making their scouts more diverse and inclusive. For instance, last year on January 1, 2014, they finally lifted the ban on openly gay youth as scouts. We hope that the lift on the ban of gay and bisexual adults as leaders and volunteers would mean that the Boy Scouts is moving in a great direction and perhaps in the coming years, they will create a policy that will allow transgender youth and adults to be a part of their ranks. We will all be waiting patiently until July 27th and hope to have something great to celebrate at the end of the month.