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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 22, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 21
Ban on Gay Scout leaders must end, BSA president Robert Gates says
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Ban on Gay Scout leaders must end, BSA president Robert Gates says

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) must end their ban on Gay Scout leaders, BSA President Robert Gates said in a speech May 21.

Gates is a former Eagle Scout, winner of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award, and a member of the Order of the Arrow, BSA's honor society. He has been president of the organization since last year.

He was formerly Secretary of Defense for both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and oversaw the end of 'Don't Ask Don't Tell.'

Gates bluntly told BSA's annual meeting that 'The status quo in our movement's membership standards cannot be sustained.'

The group cannot continue to 'ignore growing internal challenges to our current membership policy,' he said.

'We must deal with the world as it is, not as we might wish it to be,' Gates added. 'Any other alternative will be the end of us as a national movement.'

In 2013 more than 60% of BSA leaders voted to end the group's discrimination against Gay Scouts, but the policy of excluding Gay adults as leaders was maintained.

Since 70% of Boy Scout troops are sponsored by churches, Gates called for local sponsors to be able 'to determine the standards for their Scout leaders.'

'We must, at all costs, preserve the religious freedom of our church partners to do this,' Gates said.

Gates said no policy changes would be made at the national meeting, but the policy might be revised soon, so that local Scout organizations could decide on their own whether to allow Gays as leaders.

'It seems like the Boy Scouts will continue an internal dialogue about the subject and that a change within the next year or two is imminent,' Zach Wahls, the executive director of Scouts for Equality, said in a statement.

'While our work won't be done until we see a full end to their ban on gay adults once and for all, today's decision moves the Boy Scouts in that direction,' Wahls added.

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