Boy Scouts Vote to Admit Openly Gay Scouts


The issue of whether to admit openly gay scouts has been controversial, but the Boy Scouts voted to admit them on May 23.

On May 23, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) voted to allow openly gay youths into its ranks, reversing a decades-long policy. In Westport, the decision was applauded but also criticized for not going far enough: gay men and women are still not permitted to be leaders, according to the national organization.

The resolution was voted on by the BSA’s national council of 1,400 people, and over 60% voted in favor of the resolution. “No youth may be denied membership … on the basis of sexual orientation,” the resolution reads. However, the resolution lets stand the BSA’s policy prohibiting gay scout leaders.

The resolution will take effect January 1.

This resolution comes after much controversy about whether or not to admit gay scouts, with the issue attracting national attention. Ultimately, however, the resolution passed, with the BSA chief executive, Wayne Brock, calling it “compassionate, caring and kind.”

In liberal Westport, troop 36 had let an openly gay scout remain in its troop, despite the BSA’s national policy. He has since gone on to college and is now an Eagle Scout. The Yankee Council, which oversees Westport Boy Scouts, has supported gay scouts and opposed the previous national policy, according to Dan Woog, the author of “Friends and Family: True Stories of Gay America’s Straight Allies.”

“As an organization that seeks to instill morality in youth, it is important that the scouts fully accept all people and work to teach tolerance,” said Zach Effman ’15, a member of troop 36.

Woog agreed that the BSA was correct to admit gay scouts, calling the BSA’s decision to do so “long overdue.”

Effman called the resolution “an important step towards full equality for gay members of the scouting movement.” He did have one criticism of the resolution, though. “The BSA … needs to extend this new policy to adult leaders,” he said.

Woog agreed. “Think of the mixed message that sends: it’s okay to be gay as a kid, but as soon as you become an adult, you’re not worthy of respect,” he said.

“I think it’s ironic that it’s okay to be a gay Marine or soldier but not okay to be a gay Boy Scout leader,” Woog added.

Still, Effman thinks progress is being made. “I think the entire country is moving towards treating people the same regardless of their sexual orientation. The new BSA policy is definitely a reflection of the national trend,” he said.