On Monday, July 27, 2015 the executive board of the Boy Scouts of America voted 45 to 12 to rescind its ban on gay adults volunteering as Scout leaders. The change is effective immediately.
Boy Scouts of America President Dr. Robert M. Gates:
“For far too long this issue has divided and distracted us. Now it’s time to unite behind our shared belief in the extraordinary power of Scouting to be a force for good in our community and in the lives of its youth members.”
Monday’s historic vote came after the national committee approved the resolution earlier in July and over two years after the BSA voted to end the ban on gay Scouts. The resolution also allows those previously removed leaders to reapply for their leadership positions.
One major sticking point does remain though….the BSA licenses its right to use the BSA name to local non-profit groups, many of which are church based. More conservatively minded religious organizations can still determine their own policies and ban LGBTQ adults from serving in volunteer roles within their own troops.
Religious intolerance wasn’t the cause for the March 2014 ousting of local gay Scoutmaster Geoffrey McGrath. He was booted from the BSA by the national organization and his removal fired up protests that led to yesterday’s decision to end the ban. And, in the case of Mr. McGrath, he was supported by his troop and Rainier Beach United Methodist Church, the local sponsors of Troop 98 and Pack 98. Their defense of McGrath led to the BSA revoking their charter.
While McGrath is now free to reapply for a Scouting leadership position, he’s not entirely pleased by Monday’s decision that allows less tolerant religious backed troops to still discriminate against LGBTQ adults. He told NBC News:
It’s a new discriminatory policy. It’s not a new non-discriminatory policy.”
But, on his Facebook page, McGrath did state he was pleased to receive word from the ACLU that they would assist McGrath, Troop 98 and Rainier Beach United Methodist in returning to the BSA:
Pleased to receive a copy of the following correspondence from the ACLU to Chief Seattle Council today, requesting reinstatement of the Charters of Troop 98 and Pack 98 to the Rainier Beach United Methodist Church, along with restoration of the membership and leaders. Together with the members of the congregation, and the family members of the scouts and leaders involved I hope that Chief Seattle Council will extend the hand of fellowship to us, and thereby lead the way to begin treating LGBT youth and families as equals in the scouting family.
Our continuing membership in the Baden-Powell Service Association is a model to all other scouting organizations how to welcome and celebrate all scouts everywhere.
The group Scouting for Equality has vowed to keep fighting for total equality within the BSA.