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Boy Scouts allow gay Scouts, but leave ban on gay leaders in place

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Thusday's meeting, which featured an open mike for delegates, was extremely charged and 3 of every 4 speakers were for expanding the policy on gays, says Alan Snyder, chairman of the board for the Western Los Angeles County Boy Scout Council, who was at the event.

He says two testimonies, in particular, made big impressions.

In one, some very shy boys took the mike, trembling, and said, “We are the youngest people in the room, and we want to remind you that the BSA is for kids,” Mr. Snyder recounts. In another, an older man said, according to Snyder, “If I am Jewish, which I am, do I worry that a Catholic boy is going to try to convert my son to Catholicism? Of course not.”

Thursday’s vote was originally scheduled for February, but BSA leadership decided the organization needed more time to think about the issue.

Critics took issue with the decision to keep the ban on homosexual adults in place.

"Willingness to change is wonderful, but they are terribly misguided in this,” says John O’Connor, executive director of Equality California. He says the Boy Scouts “is about leadership … and leadership embraces diversity. What does it say to a kid to tell him, 'You can be part of this for now, but the moment you turn 18 you are not allowed to be part of this, you are different'.… It teaches others to discriminate against them.”

Andrew Koppelman, coauthor of "A Right to Discriminate? How the Case of Boy Scouts of America v. James Dale Warped the Law of Free Association," calls the compromise "weird and unstable." "Clearly there is stronger opposition to gay Scoutmasters than to gay Scouts, and this vote reflects that,” he says.

Asked why the BSA did not lift the ban on openly gay Scout leaders, the organization said in an e-mail to the Monitor:

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