The executive committee of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has unanimously approved a resolution to lift the organization’s long-standing ban on gay and bisexual adult leaders and let individual scout units set their own policy.
In a statement Monday, the BSA said the resolution was approved by the 17-member executive committee on Friday, and would immediately become official policy if ratified by the organization’s 80-member National Executive Board at its July 27 meeting.
In May, BSA national president and former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates Robert Gates called on the organization to lift the ban. “We must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be,” he told the organization, adding, “The status quo in our movement’s membership standards cannot be sustained.” Unlike the 2013 vote, this change would only require the support of the national executive board, a group of about 70 officials from around the country.
The group attributed the shift to “rapid changes in society and increasing legal challenges at the federal, state, and local levels,” in a statement. “Scouting will continue to focus on reaching and serving youth to help them grow into good, strong citizens. By focusing on the goals that unite us, we are able to accomplish incredible things for young people and the communities we serve.”
Scouts for Equality Executive Director Zach Wahls said that this vote “hopefully marks the beginning of the end of the Boy Scouts of America’s decades-old ban on gay leaders and parents like my two moms.”
“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,” he added, noting that, “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.”