Executive Committee of Boy Scouts Votes to Drop Ban on Gay Leaders

The Boy Scouts make a move to retain its relevance and reach.

In a unanimous decision, the executive committee of the Boy Scouts of America has approved a resolution to its policies that would end the organization’s blanket ban on openly gay group leaders.

The final decision on whether to ratify the resolution rests with the organization’s national executive board, which will meet on July 27 to decide if the change will officially become part of Boy Scout policy. If ratified, the proposal would fall short of requiring all units to allow gay leaders, but it would effectively end the organization-wide embargo on homosexuals, a step the group’s president has been pushing for.

Back in May, Robert M. Gates, president of the Boy Scouts of America and former Secretary of Defense, urged his organization to realize that their policy on openly gay leaders is outdated and poses a threat to the Boy Scouts’ relevancy and reach.

Gates, who oversaw the end of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell during his time at the Pentagon, told his colleagues that the ban must be lifted, or the Boy Scouts would face “the end of us as a national movement”:

“We must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it would be,” said Gates. “The status quo in our movement’s membership standards cannot be sustained.”

For many, the news of the resolution is a welcome and long-awaited one.

“What this means is that gay adults who want to get involved, and there are lots of them, they can put the uniform back on, and they can serve openly and honestly in an inclusive unit that will accept them,” Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout and executive director of Scouts for Equality, told the Wall Street Journal. “I couldn’t be happier about that.”

Is this a case of an organization pushed into the present by a wave of social change or one that finally realized its own policies were limiting its potential influence?