The Boy Scouts of America has dropped their ban on gay leaders yesterday.
Monday’s vote of the executive board followed a unanimous executive committee vote earlier in July recommending the end to the ban. The unanimity was possible due to the fact that the policy change also allowed individually chartered troops — many of which are backed by churches — to continue the ban. Additionally, the recommended policy noted that the national Boy Scouts organization would back any legal challenges faced by any such troop. The committee vote itself followed a speech in May by the president of the Boy Scouts — former Defense Secretary Robert Gates — that the blanket ban “cannot be sustained.” A month earlier, the Greater New York Councils had hired an out gay man, Pascal Tessier, to serve as a leader at its scout camps this summer — a fact noted by Gates in his speech.
Tessier has been a part of the changing face of the Boy Scouts, having been one of the first known out gay teens to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout — the organization’s highest rank — after the Boy Scouts ended its ban on gay youth members in 2013.
One of the groups Tessier has worked with is Scouts for Equality, a group aimed at ending the ban.
“This vote marks the beginning of a new chapter for the Boy Scouts of America. Tens of thousands of people came together because they wanted to build a better future for the Boy Scouts of America, and that future starts now. I couldn’t be more proud of the tireless work of our members, volunteers, and staff over these last three years,” Zach Wahls, the executive director of Scouts for Equality, said in a statement. “As of this vote, the Boy Scouts of America is an organization that is looking forward, not back.”Watch Robert Gates' response