The vote has been taken but the controversy isn't over - The Irving-based Boy Scouts of America will lift its long time ban and allow gay boys to join their organization – although the ban on gay adults remains.
The annual meeting of more than 1400 Boy Scouts of America delegates in Grapevine, Texas wasn’t open to the public, but their decision to allow openly gay youth leaked fast.
Just down the street from where the delegates gathered, dozens of former scouts cheered when they heard more than sixty percent of the delegates voted to overturn the ban. Pasqual Tessier is an openly gay Boy Scout who came here from Maryland. He was ecstatic.
For Tessier, the decision is life-changing. It means he can finally get the Eagle Scout ranking he’s worked towards for years.
But the decision has deeply divided the Boy Scout Community. Many faith-based groups charter local boy scout chapters have warned of a mass exodus. John Stemberger, an attorney and Eagle Scout who opposed the resolution, says his relationship with the organization is over.
“Scouting could probably still be a healthy and safe experience for several of years," Stemberger says. "But eventually, it will disintegrate I will predict like the girl scouts and other youth programs that have done this.”
The policy takes effect January 1st, so parents still have some time to decide if they’ll let their kids participate. David Metcalf of McKinney came to Grapevine with his son Sean, who's a Boy Scout, to hear the result of the vote. He says Sean, 13, might not be allowed to return next year.
“We’ve always had the assurance in the past that we could release him to other adult leaders and the company of other scouts and he would be safe. We can’t trust the National [Boy Scouts of America] organization any longer.”
Recent polls show a majority of Americans do support allowing gay youth in the Boy Scouts, but support for allowing gay adults as scout leaders is lower. At the meeting in Grapevine, the executive committee indicated it would not revisit the ban on gay adults anytime soon.