The Boy Scouts of America ( BSA ) voted to change its membership policy so that gay and bisexual adults can serve as registered leaders and paid employees.
Although this new policy will permit religiously-affiliated units to choose their leaders in accordance with their faithand thereby allow for continued sexual-orientation discriminationthis change is major progress for an organization that has banned gay leaders for over 30 years.
As a bisexual Eagle Scout and someone who spent seven summers on staff at a BSA camp in Michigan, I know how important this change will be for countless LGBT youth and adults in the program. This camp is my second home and I cherish it as the place where I came of age. It was those experiences of achieving my goals and understanding what I could offer my community which motivated me to attain the rank of Eagle in 2007. It also cemented my commitment to Scouting. However, despite my eagerness to advance Scouting, I have not been welcome since I came out in 2012.
When I came out to my boss on my last day on camp staff, I thought it would be 10 or more years until I was a registered leader again. I thought that my decision to be my true self would come at the cost of losing most of the experience that defined my adolescence as well as my second family at camp. It amazes me that in just three years' time two huge parts of my identitymy sexuality and my love for Scoutinghave become openly accepted by the BSA.
I applaud the Boy Scouts for making this change. It sends a message to every community that Scouting is open to every family. Countless gay and straight youth will now experience how transformative Scout camp can be. Under the guidance of committed adult leaders, these youth will develop self-confidence, forge lifelong friendships, and gain a deep appreciation for the outdoors. That is why the vote was good for Scouting. By welcoming all families, the BSA is ensuring that every youth can experience this powerful program.