Civil Rights

Boy Scouts ends ban on gay troop leaders, but allows religion-based exceptions

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The executive board of the Boy Scouts of America voted Monday, 45-12, to eliminate a national ban on gay troop leaders, effective immediately.

The vote comes two years after the 2.5 million member group decided to allow openly gay scouts. It follows comments in May by the BSA’s president, former CIA director and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, that the “status quo in our movement’s membership standards cannot be sustained” and could result in “staggering” litigation costs if not lifted.

Agence France-Presse, the Associated Press, CNN, Courthouse News and the New York Times (reg. req.) have stories.

At the same time that the board voted to remove the national ban on gay troop leaders, however, it also agreed to a religion-based exception for local troops that will allow them to bar gay troop leaders and gay employees.

“This change allows Scouting’s members and parents to select local units, chartered to organizations with similar beliefs, that best meet the needs of their families,” said the BSA in a written statement. “This change also respects the right of religious chartered organizations to choose adult volunteer leaders whose beliefs are consistent with their own.”

Related coverage

The Atlantic: “Robert Gates, America’s Unlikely Gay-Rights Hero”

Deseret News: “LDS Church ‘re-evaluating’ Scouting program after Boy Scouts of America policy change”

Christian Science Monitor: “Why Boy Scouts stance on gay leaders leaves it in limbo (+video)”

See also: “California judges will be banned from Boy Scouts as a result of vote by state supreme court”

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