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Gay youths to be allowed to join Boy Scouts: Controversy rages

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
May 24th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In a landmark decision, Boys Scout of America has overturned their ban on openly gay youths joining their ranks. It's being described as a historic decision that the Scouts say will keep it unclouded by "a single, divisive, and unresolved societal issue." The BSA, however, will maintain its ban on gay adult leaders.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - More than 60 percent of the group's 1,400-member national council voted at an annual meeting in Grapevine, Texas, for the change this week. The new guidelines will take effect at the start of the New Year.

"No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone," says the resolution.

"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," the 103-year-old organization said in a statement after the vote.

The vote came after "an extensive dialogue within the scouting family (that) was exhaustive and . very respectful," BSA President Wayne Perry said.

"No matter how you feel about this issue, kids are better off in scouting," Perry told reporters. "Our mission is to serve every kid."

The decision brought quick reaction from special interest groups. The Human Rights Campaign said the BSA took a "historic step forward," but also added that "Unfortunately, the new policy does not go far enough, leaving adult Eagle Scouts, scout leaders, and parents behind."

Jennifer Tyrrell, an Ohio mother who was ousted as a den leader in April 2012 due to her lesbianism, called hailed the vote as "incredible . They've never been raised to discriminate against anyone regardless of sex or color or anything, so they can't understand why people care so much," she said of her children. "Definitely, one day, I hope they look back and think that we're part of something amazing."

She says the decision has galvanized her to change Boy Scout policy so that gays and lesbian adults, like her, can serve as leaders.

"When we used to exclude women from things, when we used to exclude black people from things, and that never has ever worked, but we continue to do it," she said. "I'm going to be around to make sure that that's not the case. We're definitely not going to go away."

Conservative groups along with some religious organizations argued against making any change in the membership policy, saying it would dilute the Boy Scout message of morality and potentially destroy the organization. John Stemberger, founder of OnMyHonor.net, which opposed the resolution, called the vote a "sad day for Scouting."

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