The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) have voted to repeal its national ban on gay and lesbian adult staff and volunteers this week.
“The resolution will allow chartered organizations to select adult leaders without regard to sexual orientation,” a Boy Scouts of America statement read.
Just 15 years ago, the US Supreme Court ruled that the BSA had the right to discriminate against gay volunteers and staff in a 5-4 decision. Tim Curran filed a lawsuit against BSA for such a discrimination claim in the 1980s, which he then lost in a ruling by the California Supreme Court in the 1990s. Curran, now a copy editor and writer for CNN, says he “couldn’t be happier” with the decision, although he acknowledges that it comes later than he had hoped.
Robert Gates, current BSA President, said in announcing the removal of this ban that it would never hold up in the rapidly shifting political climate and increasing demands for LGBT rights. “For far too long this issue has divided and distracted us,” he said in a statement. “Now it’s time to unite behind our shared belief in the extraordinary power of Scouting to be a force for good in a community and in the lives of its youth members.”
This win for LGBT rights is limited, however, as troops organized through church groups can still decide if they will allow gay leaders. Because of that exemption, LGBT rights groups will fight on to shift BSA policies.
“Discrimination should have no place in the Boy Scouts,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. “Period.”
Media Resources: Think Progress 7/27/15; CNN 7/28/15; NBC 7/29/15; HRC Blog 7/27/15;