SALT LAKE CITY -- The Boy Scouts of America officially ended its ban on gay scout leaders Monday, a move that many had long anticipated.
The national executive board formally passed a resolution that removes national restrictions on openly gay adult leaders and employees. Of those present and voting, 79 percent voted in favor of the resolution, which took effect immediately.
However, the decision did not find support from leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which expressed its disappointment in the vote. In a statement, which can be read in full below, the church stated it would reevaluate its longstanding relationship with BSA, hinting at a possible alternative to the program in the future.
According to BSA, chartered organizations, such as the LDS church, will be able to continue to select their adult leaders and religious chartered groups may continue to use religious beliefs as a criteria for selecting adult leaders, including matters on sexuality.
The rule comes just a couple months after BSA President Robert Gates advocated for the change, calling the ban unsustainable.
“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,” stated the release. “This change also respects the right of religious chartered organizations to choose adult volunteer leaders whose beliefs are consistent with their own.”
In response to the decision, Utah’s scouting councils pointed to the LDS church.
“This is an issue for those religious organizations. In many respects, the new policy reinforces the long standing policy of Boy Scouts to let the chartered organizations, the chartered partners, decide who the leaders will be in these youth programs,” said Stan Lockhart, president of the Utah National Parks Council.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints released the following statement about Monday's vote:
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is deeply troubled by today’s vote by the Boy Scouts of America National Executive Board. In spite of a request to delay the vote, it was scheduled at a time in July when members of the Church’s governing councils are out of their offices and do not meet. When the leadership of the Church resumes its regular schedule of meetings in August, the century-long association with Scouting will need to be examined. The Church has always welcomed all boys to its Scouting units regardless of sexual orientation. However, the admission of openly gay leaders is inconsistent with the doctrines of the Church and what have traditionally been the values of the Boy Scouts of America.
As a global organization with members in 170 countries, the Church has long been evaluating the limitations that fully one-half of its youth face where Scouting is not available. Those worldwide needs combined with this vote by the BSA National Executive Board will be carefully reviewed by the leaders of the Church in the weeks ahead.”