SAN DIEGO – The Boy Scouts of America national council voted Thursday to approve a resolution that will allow openly gay youth — but not gay adult leaders — to participate in the group, which includes about 2.6 million Scouts nationwide.
The resolution, proposed earlier this year, was approved by a majority of the 1,400 national council members during a vote by secret ballot at their annual meeting near Dallas.
The new policy, which takes effect in January, was cheered by some gay advocates as a first step toward full inclusion, while opponents complained it undermines the group’s moral code and religious sponsors.
The resolution is one sentence: “No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.”
“This resolution today dealt with youth. We have not changed our adult membership standards. They have served us well for the last 100 years. Those were not on the table,” said Tico Perez, BSA national commissioner.
Gay Eagle Scout Chance Kawar was thrilled with the decision to lift the ban on gay Boy Scouts.
“I’m proud they are being brave,” 18-year-old Kawar said. “It’s a step in the right direction.”
While Kawar was happy new gay scouts will not face the same fears he did, but he was saddened that he is still banned from participating.
Kawar said he feels after 12 years of dedication to the BSA, he deserves his place in the troop.
“I feel like they are treating me like a criminal. I have done everything to prove myself as leader,” said Kawar.
In February, the Boy Scouts’ national executive board postponed a vote on the issue and ordered a survey of its members. That survey showed an organization that is divided — by age and, in some cases, by region.