The Boy Scouts of America overturned the group's long-standing ban on openly gay members Thursday, but left in place the policy banning gay volunteers from serving with the scouts.
The Scouts' National Council made its decision during its annual meeting in Grapevine, Texas, near its suburban Dallas headquarters. About 1,400 voting members on the council were expected to cast a ballot.
Discussion of the policy has split conservatives who denounce the proposal and gay-rights supporters who say they welcome the possible change but want the ban on adult leaders to be lifted as well.
About two dozen people calling on members to vote "no" stood outside the resort, while supporters of the change met across the street.
The vote to lift the ban on gay youths symbolizes a cultural shift a troop and temple in Valley Village adopted 13 years ago.
Backed by the Supreme Court’s ruling that it could be a private act organization, Temple Beth Hillel decided that in order to sponsor Boy Scout troop 36 and Cub Scout 311, they would have to adopt an inclusive charter.
“This is a little exclusive, this model,” Rabbi Sarah Hronsky said.
Everyone, gay or not, is welcome into their Boy Scout organization. Hronsky said it’s a charter that has never been challenged at a local or national level.
“It hurts when I read all the kids that have not been able to complete their eagle because they have announced their son is gay,” said Cindy Sanchez, who is a lesbian and the parent of a Boy Scout.
In Sanchez’s eyes, Thursday’s ruling finally follows the Boy Scout creed.
Hronsky, however, said today’s ruling is only a small victory because the national organization -- with has about 2.6 million youth members -- still does not allow gay leaders.
“It doesn’t make logical sense,” she said. “If a child is identifying themselves as homosexual, they need role models. That’s part of good citizenship, good leadership. But we are on a path."
The Boy Scouts of America released the following statement Thursday afternoon:
"For 103 years, the Boy Scouts of America has been a part of the fabric of this nation, with a focus on working together to deliver the nation's foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training.
Based on growing input from within the Scouting family, the BSA leadership chose to conduct an additional review of the organization's long-standing membership policy and its impact on Scouting's mission. This review created an outpouring of feedback from the Scouting family and the American public, from both those who agree with the current policy and those who support a change.
Today, following this review, the most comprehensive listening exercise in Scouting's history the approximate 1,400 voting members of the Boy Scouts of America's National Council approved a resolution to remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone. The resolution also reinforces that Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting. A change to the current membership policy for adult leaders was not under consideration; thus, the policy for adults remains in place. The BSA thanks all the national voting members who participated in this process and vote.
This policy change is effective Jan. 1, 2014, allowing the Boy Scouts of America the transition time needed to communicate and implement this policy to its approximately 116,000 Scouting units.
The Boy Scouts of America will not sacrifice its mission, or the youth served by the movement, by allowing the organization to be consumed by a single, divisive, and unresolved societal issue. As the National Executive Committee just completed a lengthy review process, there are no plans for further review on this matter.
While people have different opinions about this policy, we can all agree that kids are better off when they are in Scouting. Going forward, our Scouting family will continue to focus on reaching and serving youth in order to help them grow into good, strong citizens. America's youth need Scouting, and by focusing on the goals that unite us, we can continue to accomplish incredible things for young people and the communities we serve."