On Monday the Boy Scouts of America is expected to end its ban on gay scouts leaders. The New York Times reports that the decision—one that’s been in the works for some time—will be limited in scope:
“To gain the acquiescence of conservative religious groups that sponsor many dens and troops, like the Mormon and Roman Catholic Churches, the policy will allow church-run units to pick leaders who agree with their moral precepts.
There are differences of opinion, and we need to be respectful of them,” said Michael Harrison, a businessman who led the Boy Scouts in Orange County, Calif., and is one of many leaders who lobbied internally for change. ‘It doesn’t mean the Mormons have to pick a gay scoutmaster, but please don’t tell the Unitarians they can’t.’”
The Boy Scouts, long viewed by some as a bastion of traditional values, has seen declining membership. In a heated national meeting in 2013, the organization decided to permit gay scouts, but maintained the ban gay and lesbian troop leaders.
Yet many in the Boy Scouts remained uncomfortable with the decision to ban gay troop leaders and counselors. At a meeting earlier this year, the organization’s president, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, said that the ban on gay adults “cannot be sustained.”
The Scouts’ final decision splits the proverbial baby; they will ban discrimination based on sexual orientation for paid positions, yet largely allow volunteers to continue as they were. The Times reports:
“[...] to keep some of the larger church sponsors in the fold, Scout executives concluded that they must allow for diverse policies for local volunteers. Church-based units may ‘continue to choose adult leaders whose beliefs are consistent with their own,’ according to a statement that the Scouts’ top executives sent this month to regional board members.
The step, if incomplete in the view of many gay rights campaigners, is nonetheless a momentous one for an organization that has struggled to keep the allegiance of conservatives as it faced open rebellion from more liberal regions.”
Image via Getty.