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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Boy Scouts looks ahead to vote on gay leaders
by Matt Simonette
2015-07-17

This article shared 2789 times since Fri Jul 17, 2015
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The National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America [BSA], on July 27, will vote to ratify a measure that would allow gay adults to serve as scout leaders.

The measure was approved unanimously July 13 by BSA's Executive Committee and comes in response to calls to dismantle the organization's ban on gay leaders. The organization has allowed gay scouts since early 2014, but that policy did not extend to scout leaders. Former U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, BSA's President, called for that policy to change in an interview with Associated Press this past May.

While the organization-wide ban would be lifted, local troops, such as those who are under the auspices of churches, would not be obligated to welcome gay leaders.

In a July 13 statement, Zach Wahl, executive director of the activist organization, 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."

Human Rights Campaign [HRC] officials nevertheless declared that the potential policy shift does not go far enough. HRC President Chad Griffin said in a release, ""As we have said countless times, half measures are unacceptable and discriminatory exemptions have no place in the Boy Scouts. It's long overdue that BSA leaders demonstrate true leadership and embrace a full national policy of inclusion that does not discriminate against anyone because of who they are."

Also registering displeasure was Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who officially launched his presidential campaign the week of July 13. He told Independent Journal-Review on July 14, "I have had a lifelong commitment to the Scouts and support the previous membership policy because it protected children and advanced Scout values." The following day, a spokesperson for Walker's campaign told MSNBC that Walker supported the policy so that young people would not be caught up in rancorous political discourse.

The vote comes at a time of dwindling enrollment in BSA. Reuters reported that membership decreased some 7.4 percent from 2013 to 2014.


This article shared 2789 times since Fri Jul 17, 2015
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