The Boy Scouts of America have proposed lifting the organization's long-standing ban on gay youth, but keeping the ban on gay adults in leadership roles.
In a Friday announcement, the BSA's executive committee released a resolution to be voted on by the 1,400 members of the organization's National Council at the organization’s annual national meeting in Texas next month.
"No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone," the resolution reads, which would take effect Jan. 1, 2014, if approved.
The recommendation from the executive eommittee to end the 103-year-old organization's discriminatory ban comes after months of pressure from outside organizations following the BSA's July decision to uphold the ban. The ban's reaffirmation came after the recommendation of an anonymous 11-member committee that studied the issue for two years.
However, following public backlash and countless outside petitions, the BSA sought another review of the ban. According to a BSA release, the response they received was clear: "While perspectives and opinions vary significantly, parents, adults in the Scouting community, and teens alike tend to agree that youth should not be denied the benefits of Scouting.”
According to The Washington Post, a proposal to allow local Scouting units to determine their own gay bans proved unpopular. And while experts consulted on youth protection and child sexual abuse prevention told the BSA that there was no link between homosexuality and sexual abuse, the group still wants to exclude gay adults from the organization.
Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout with lesbian parents and the founder of Scouts for Equality, said the fight against discrimination will continue. "But today, this is about the kids, and we are glad that the Boy Scouts of America is taking this historic step forward," Wahls said in a statement.
Although the announcement is a giant step in the direction of equality for the BSA, the proposal has already rankled opponents and supporters of the gay ban. While supporters of the ban argue allowing gay youth to participate will "doom" the Scouts, opponents argue the proposed resolution sends a message to gay youth that they can be Scouts, but not leaders.
"I am appalled at the Boys Scouts' announcement," stated Jennifer Tyrrell, the Ohio lesbian mother who was ousted as leader of her son's Cub Scout pack in April. "The fact that they are still telling children their parents aren't good enough is heartbreaking to me. How many times do families like mine have to be rejected by this organization?"
For Greg Bourke of Kentucky, who was ousted as a Scoutmaster of his son’s troop for being gay in August, the proposed resolution was also a slap in the face. "I can't even begin to explain how much it hurt when I read the proposed resolution and realized that the Boy Scouts were still telling me and my family that we're not welcome," Bourke said in a statement.
Read the full resolution here: