Boy Scouts ending ban on openly gay members

The Boy Scouts of America’s national leaders decided Thursday to allow openly gay members into troops.

The organization’s National Council endorsed with 61.4 percent of the vote a resolution lifting the ban on openly gay Scouts, according to a statement.

“Today, following this review, the most comprehensive listening exercise in Scouting’s history, the approximately 1,400 voting members of the Boy Scouts of America’s National Council approved a resolution to remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone,” the statement reads.

However, the council left in place a ban on openly gay adult Scouting leaders.

The policy shift opens the door for openly gay Scouts in the nine councils throughout the Bay Area and nationwide, but does not allow openly gay parents of Scouts or other openly gay adults to serve as leaders.

“I’m glad they’ve taken a teeny-tiny step, but there is so much more they could have done,” said Alameda resident Maya Goehring-Harris, a den leader for her son’s local Cub Scouts troop.

Goehring-Harris is a member of the national organization Scouts for Equality and one of many people across the country and Bay Area who started an online petition urging her local Boy Scouts council to reject the national policy banning gay members.

Ryan Andresen, an 18-year-old Moraga resident who was denied his Eagle Scout badge after coming out as gay, also launched an online petition and has been at the forefront of the national campaign against the Boy Scouts’ anti-gay policy.

Goehring-Harris said she is proud of the National Council’s vote lifting the ban but is still waiting for them to allow openly gay Scout leaders.

“Hopefully it’ll push the national Scouts organization to go 100 percent and say this isn’t something anybody should be even discussing,” she said.

The local mother said she knows some gay parents in the Bay Area who don’t allow their children to join the Boy Scouts due to the national policy, even if their local councils have voiced their opposition to the ban.

“It’s sad because the Scouting program is good, but the politics are bad,” she said.

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