The executive committee of the Boy Scouts of America has announced that its members voted unanimously on Friday to allow gay scout leaders, a ban which has long made the organization a target of gay rights organizations. In a brief statement, the committee cited âthe rapid changes in societyâ and âincreasing legal challenges at the federal, state, and local levelsâ as the primary factors behind the decision.
The change in policy isnât much of a surprise. Boy Scouts President Robert Gates this spring had called the ban âunsustainable.â The national executive board is expected to ratify the change later this month.
The organizationâs national council voted in May 2013 toÂ lift itsÂ ban on gay scouts. President Obama even inserted himself into the debate, urgingÂ the Boy Scouts of America toÂ open its membership to gays and lesbiansÂ in aÂ pre-Super Bowl interview on CBS News.Â The ban on scout leaders remained in place, however.
Legal challenges certainly werenât the only problem the Scouts faced. Some major donors, such as the Merck Foundation, had pulled their funding of the Boy Scouts, and entertainers like Carly Rae Jepsen and Train pulled out of scheduled events in protest.
Some holdouts were done with the Boy Scouts earlier this year, when the 2015 handbook announced a ban on water gun fights and fights with water balloons that are non-biodegradable and larger than âping-pong ball size.â âPointing a simulated firearm at another individual is not aligned with our Scout Oath nor Scout Law,â explainedÂ communications director Kerrie Mitchell.
So, water pistolsÂ are banned and gay scout leaders are now welcome. Can we get some recognition for the Scoutsâ evolution?
The Boy Scouts still lag behind the Girl Scouts when it comes to progressive issues. The Girl Scouts, whose Honorary National President is first lady Michelle Obama, have welcomed transgender girls into their organization for years and recently camped out on the White House lawn. Will the Boy Scouts get an invitation now?