It looks like the Boy Scouts of America is about to end its longstanding ban on gay adults serving as employees and volunteers.
The long-standing ban on gay adults serving as scoutmasters or in other roles as the organization has long been controversial–and, with the fight for gay rights quickly gaining ground, it appears that the Boy Scouts has decided to throw in the towel.
The Boy Scouts’ National Executive committee unanimously approved a resolution last week that would end the ban. The full executive board will vote on the measure later this month–and, if approved, the ban will be immediately lifted.
The Executive Committee cites “Rapid changes in society and increasing legal challenges at the federal, state, and local levels” for their change. And it appears likely that the rest of the board will follow suit.
“This is, for all intents and purposes, a done deal,” said Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout and the executive director of the group Scouts for Equality. Wahls, who was raised by a lesbian couple, is noted for his 2011 address in favor of gay marriage to the Iowa House Judiciary Committee, which went viral on YouTube when he was just 19.
Wahls continued: “The Boy Scouts were effectively the last great civic institution that was still explicitly discriminating against gay adults. The resolution, as we understand, would end discrimination of employment with BSA.” He added, “It would be unprecedented for the National Executive Board to vote down a unanimous decision by the National Executive Committee. That has never happened before.”
Boy Scouts of America had previously dropped its century-old ban on gay youth in 2014, but retained its ban on gay adults.
However, the resolution wouldn’t force all Boy Scout units to hire gay adults: if the Boy Scout unit in question is chartered by a religious partner, they could continue to uphold the ban–at least, for now.
“It’s certainly not an ideal policy,” Wahls said, in regards to the religious exemption. “But it’s better than it was.”