Boy Scouts Prepare for Gay Youth Members

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 28 2013 8:07 PM

Boy Scouts Prepare for Gay Youth, But Gay Troop Leaders Still Banned

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Jennifer Tyrrell of Bridgeport, Ohio, a Cub Scout den leader who was kicked out in 2012 for being openly gay, embraces her son Cruz Burns, 8 on May 23, 2013 in Grapevine, Texas.

Photo by Stewart House/Getty Images

Be Prepared! That’s the Boy Scout’s marching song. The Boy Scouts of America will enact its new policy to allow openly gay youth to become and remain scouts beginning January 1, 2014. Far from ringing in the historic change, the Associated Press reports, the BSA is hoping for the shift to be uneventful.

"My hope is there will be the same effect this Jan. 1 as the Y2K scare," said Brad Haddock, a BSA national executive board member who chairs the policy implementation committee. "It's business as usual, nothing happens and we move forward."
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The new membership policy was approved in May of this year and was not without controversy. Though some predicted decreases in enrollment and sponsporship -- 70 percent of the organization's funding comes from religious groups -- the Boy Scouts report little fallout.

In an effort to ease the transition, the BSA has worked out a game plan, including answers to frequently asked questions regarding the new membership policy. A few examples:

Can a Scout participate in a social or political cause that calls attention to his sexual orientation or preference?
... Each youth member is free as an individual to express his thoughts or take action on political or social questions, but he must not use Scouting’s official uniforms and insignia when doing so.
Will there be any changes to current policies regarding sleeping arrangements on Scout activities?
Each unit’s leadership along with their committee will be responsible for working with their parents to determine appropriate sleeping arrangements. ...
What happens when a youth member with same-sex attraction becomes an adult and wants to serve as a leader?
As is the case with every member, when individuals are no longer youth participants, they must reapply as, and meet the requirements of, adult leaders.

And it is those requirements of adult leaders that continue to cause tension for the BSA. The organization still prohibits gay adults from serving as staffers and volunteers. Elsewhere in Slate, Nathaniel Frank argues the Boy Scout’s half-step policy on homosexuality is doomed to fail -- reminiscent of the military’s “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” problematic compromise.