The Boy Scouts of America could soon be ending its ban on adult gay leaders, with the group’s president speaking out against the ban in the strongest statement yet supporting full equality.
Robert Gates said this week at the group’s national meeting in Atlanta that he will not take action against Boy Scouts councils that allow openly gay leaders. The group’s ban on gay leaders has come under fire, but in recent years it has taken steps to move away from it. In April, an openly gay adult was hired by the Greater New York Council of Boy Scouts to lead a summer camp.
The Boy Scouts already opened the doors to gay members in 2013, and now it appears gay leaders will soon be officially welcomed.
Gates would appear to be the leader to do it. As U.S. Secretary of Defense, he helped end the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that kept openly gay individuals from serving. When he was selected last year to lead the Boy Scouts of America, many believed that ending the gay ban was a large part of the decision.
“We must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be. The status quo in our movement’s membership standards cannot be sustained,” Gates said.
Though Gates shied away from suggesting an official policy change, he noted that the national climate will soon demand it.
“Dozens of states – from New York to Utah – are passing laws that protect employment rights on the basis of sexual orientation,” he said. “Thus, between internal challenges and potential legal conflicts, the Boy Scouts of America finds itself in an unsustainable position.”
Gates has been hailed by rights groups, who praised the development this week.
The Boy Scouts it not the only organization moving toward greater acceptance. This month, the Girl Scouts of the United States of America released a statement saying that transgender boys wold be welcomed.
The message, written by Andrea Bastiani Archibald, the organization’s chief girl expert, said that “if a girl is recognized by her family, school and community as a girl and lives culturally as a girl, Girl Scouts is an organization that can serve her.”
“Girl Scouts has valued and supported all girls since our inception in 1912. There is not one type of girl. Every girl’s sense of self, path to it, and how she is supported is unique.
“The foundation of diversity that Juliette Gordon Low established runs throughout Girl Scouting to this day. Our mission to build “girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place” extends to all members, and through our program, girls develop the necessary leadership skills to advance diversity and promote tolerance.”
The ban on gay leaders has hurt the Boy Scouts, leading some major sponsors to pull out in protest, including Lockheed Martin and Intel Corp.
[Image via Getty Images/ Tom Pennington]