NEW YORK (AP) — The executive committee of the Boy Scouts of America has unanimously approved a resolution that would end the organization’s blanket ban on gay adult leaders and let individual Scout units set their own policy on the long-divisive issue. Units sponsored by churches opposed to the change could maintain the ban if they choose.
In a statement Monday, the BSA said the resolution was approved by the 17-member executive committee on Friday, and would become official policy immediately if ratified by the organization’s 80-member National Executive Board at a meeting on July 27.
The committee action follows an emphatic speech in May by the organization’s president, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, declaring that the long-standing ban on participation by openly gay adults was no longer sustainable. He and other BSA leaders said the ban was likely to be the target of lawsuits that the Scouts were apt to lose.
In 2013, after bitter internal debate, the BSA decided to allow openly gay youth as scouts, but not gay adults as leaders.
Under the new resolution, local scout units would be able to select adult leaders without regard to sexual orientation — a stance that several scout councils have already adopted in defiance of the official national policy.
“This change allows Scouting’s members and parents to select local units, chartered to organizations with similar beliefs, that best meet the needs of their families,” the BSA statement said. “This change would also respect the right of religious chartered organizations to continue to choose adult leaders whose beliefs are consistent with their own.”
Several denominations that sponsor large numbers of Scout units — including the Roman Catholic Church, the Mormon church and the Southern Baptist Convention — have been apprehensive about ending the ban on gay adults.
Southern Evangelical Seminary President Richard Land, who formerly led the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said he was glad the policy allowed an exemption for religiously sponsored groups, but it didn’t resolve his main concern: That neither boys or girls in scouting should have leaders who are sexually attracted to their gender, whether the leader is gay or straight.
“If you put them in the compromising situations that you are sometimes in with Scout leaders and Scouts, in terms of camping and other situations, it could lead to great tragedy for children,” Land said. “It’s best to avoid the temptation.”
In a memo sent Monday to local Scout officials nationwide, the BSA’s top leaders said they had consulted their religious partners before acting on the resolution, and they pledged to defend the right of any church-sponsored units to continue excluding gay adults from leadership posts.
The BSA “rejects any interference with or condemnation of the diverse beliefs of chartering organizations on matters of marriage, family, and sexuality,” the memo said.
The Mormon church, in a statement, indicated that this stance was crucial to its continued role as a leading sponsor of Boy Scout units.
“As a chartering organization, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has always had the right to select Scout leaders who adhere to moral and religious principles that are consistent with our doctrines and beliefs,” the church said. “Any resolution adopted by the Boy Scouts of America regarding leadership in Scouting must continue to affirm that right.”
The BSA’s deference to the religious organizations was criticized by Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, a national LGBT-rights group.
“Half measures are unacceptable and discriminatory exemptions have no place in the Boy Scouts,” Griffin said in a statement. “It’s long overdue that BSA leaders demonstrate true leadership and embrace a full national policy of inclusion.”
Among other points in the BSA’s memo:
—Prospective employees of the national organization could no longer be denied a staff position on the basis of sexual orientation.
—Gay leaders who were previously removed from Scouting because of the ban would have the opportunity to reapply for volunteer positions.
—There would be no change in the long-standing requirement that youth and adult Scout members profess a “duty to God.”
Gates, who became the BSA’s president in May 2014, said at the time that he personally would have favored ending the ban on gay adults, but he opposed any further debate after the Scouts’ policymaking body upheld the ban. In May, however, he said at the BSA’s annual national meeting that recent events “have confronted us with urgent challenges I did not foresee and which we cannot ignore.”
He cited a defiant announcement by the BSA’s New York City chapter in early April that it had hired Pascal Tessier, the nation’s first openly gay Eagle Scout, as a summer camp leader. Gates also cited broader developments related to gay rights, and warned that rigidly maintaining the ban “will be the end of us as a national movement.”
The Scouts’ resolution was hailed by Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout raised by two lesbian moms who now heads the advocacy group Scouts for Equality.
“While this policy change is not perfect — BSA’s religious chartering partners will be allowed to continue to discriminate against gay adults — it is difficult to overstate the importance of today’s announcement,” Wahls said.
For a variety of reasons, the Boy Scouts — like several other major youth organizations — have experienced a membership decline in recent decades. Current membership, according to the BSA, is about 2.4 million boys and about 1 million adults.
Associated Press writers Jennifer Peltz in New York and Lindsay Whitehurst in Salt Lake City contributed to this report
And here is another good news below :
Pentagon Readying Plan to Lift Transgender Ban
Pentagon Readying Plan to Lift Transgender Ban
The Pentagon’s current regulations banning transgender individuals from serving in the military are outdated, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Monday, ordering a six-month study aimed at formally ending one of the last gender- or sexuality-based barriers to military service.
Carter said he is creating a working group that will review the policies and determine if lifting the ban would have any impact on the military’s ability to be ready for battle. But he said the group will begin with the presumption that transgender people should be able to serve openly “without adverse impact on military effectiveness and readiness, unless and except where objective, practical impediments are identified.”
The plan, which was first reported by The Associated Press, gives the services time to methodically work through the legal, medical and administrative issues and develop training to ease any transition, and senior leaders believed six months would be sufficient.
“The Defense Department’s current regulations regarding transgender service members are outdated and are causing uncertainty that distracts commanders from our core missions,” Carter said in a statement released Monday. “At a time when our troops have learned from experience that the most important qualification for service members should be whether they’re able and willing to do their job, our officers and enlisted personnel are faced with certain rules that tell them the opposite.”
Carter asked his personnel undersecretary, Brad Carson, to lead the working group of senior military and civilian leaders to take an objective look at the issue, including the costs, and determine whether it would create any insurmountable problems that could derail the plan. The group would also develop uniform guidelines.
During the six months, transgender individuals would still not be able to join the military, but any decisions to force out those already serving would be referred to Carson. One senior official said the goal was to avoid forcing any transgender service members to leave during that time. That official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Some of the key concerns involved in the repeal of the ban include whether the military would conduct or pay for the medical costs of surgeries and other treatment associated with any gender transition, as well as which physical training or testing standards transgender individuals would be required to meet during different stages of their transition.
Officials said the military also wants time to tackle questions about where transgender troops would be housed, what uniforms they would wear, what berthing they would have on ships, which bathrooms they would use and whether their presence would affect the ability of small units to work well together. The military has dealt with many similar questions as it integrated the ranks by race, gender and sexual orientation.
Transgender people — those who identify with a different gender than they were born with and sometimes take hormone treatments or have surgery to develop the physical characteristics of their preferred gender — are banned from military service. But studies and other surveys have estimated that as many as 15,000 transgender people serve in the active-duty military and the reserves, often in secret but in many cases with the knowledge of their unit commander or peers.
“Obviously this isn’t finished, but Secretary Carter’s clear statement of intent means that transgender service members should and will be treated with the same dignity as other service members,” said Allyson Robinson, Army veteran and policy director for an association of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender military personnel called Service Members, Partners and Allies for Respect and Tolerance for All, or SPARTA.
Brynn Tannehill, who was a Navy pilot before leaving the force and transitioning to a woman, recalled the difficulties when serving.
“It was stressful and it was something that I couldn’t talk with anyone about, because if you even breathed a word of it you didn’t know what was going to happen,” said Tannehill, who still serves in Individual Ready Reserve. “You could lose your career, that I’d worked so hard for.”
Several Congress members, including Rep. Adam Smith, ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, expressed support for Carter’s decision. But the more conservative Family Research Council questioned the change.
“Considering the abysmal condition of our military and a decline in readiness, why is this a top priority for the Obama administration?” said retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin, the council’s executive vice president. “The Pentagon must answer whether this proposed policy makes our military more capable of performing its mission. The answer is a very clear and resounding no.”
The move follows several weeks of high-level meetings in the Pentagon among military chiefs, secretaries and Defense Department leaders, including one Monday involving Carter and the chiefs of the various services.
Military leaders have pointed to the gradual — and ultimately successful — transition after the ban on gays serving openly in the military was lifted in 2011. Although legislation repealing that ban passed Congress in late 2010, the military services spent months conducting training and reviews before the decision actually took effect the following September.
The latest Pentagon move comes just weeks after the Supreme Court upheld the right of same-sex couples to marry.
Officials familiar with the Pentagon meetings said the chiefs of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force did not express opposition to lifting the ban. Instead, they said the military leaders asked for time to figure out health care, housing and other questions and also to provide information and training to the troops to ensure a smooth transition.
Although guidelines require that transgender individuals be dismissed from the military, the services in recent months have required more senior leaders to make the final decisions on those cases, effectively slowing the dismissal process.
The transgender issue came to the fore as the military struggled with how to deal with convicted national security leaker Chelsea Manning’s request for hormone therapy and other treatment while she’s in prison. Manning, arrested as Bradley Manning, is the first transgender military prisoner to request such treatment, and the Army approved the hormone therapy, under pressure from a lawsuit.