Boy Scouts’ executive board votes to end ban on openly gay leaders

The Boy Scouts' executive board voted to end ban on openly gay leaders on Monday. (x)

The Boy Scouts’ executive board voted to end ban on openly gay leaders on Monday. (x)

The executive board of the Boy Scouts of America voted on Monday to end the organization’s ban on openly gay leaders. The final vote comes after a key leadership panel previously voted to lift the ban after the head of the organization urged the change in May.

“For far too long, this issue has divided and distracted us,” president Robert Gates said in a statement. “Now it’s time to unite behind our shared belief in the extraordinary power of scouting to be a force for good in a community and in the lives of its youth members.”

The decision will not require all groups to allow openly gay leaders. It will, however, be an option for all groups if they choose to welcome an openly gay Scout leader. Douglas Laycock, a prominent religious liberty scholar at the University of Virginia, says this change will just shift the lawsuits from the national group to local troops.

“It’s changing the target [of litigation] because now it will be all about the local, not the national,” he said. “It changes the dynamic a lot. It makes it more informal, less visible.”

“This was a very important and difficult change for such an organization,” said Josh Schiller. Schiller is an attorney representing Yasmin Cassini, a woman who was hired to run a Colorado Scout center but then lost the job when she came out as a lesbian. “I definitely think it’s the beginning of building inclusive programs…It’s halfway where we want to be.”

Two years ago, the Boy Scouts lifted its ban on allowing openly gay youth. In May, president Robert Gates urged the organization to end the ban on openly gay leaders. This led to a vote by a key leadership panel earlier in July.

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