As of yesterday (Jan 1) the Boy Scouts of America began allowing openly gay scouts for the very first time. The BSA, which had resisted the change for several years, has been losing a substantial number of corporate sponsors recently over its exclusionary policy. Most recently Lockheed Martin decided to stop its donations to the group due to the anti-gay policy.
Openly gay adults are still banned from serving as Scout leaders.
"We're pleased that the overwhelming majority of our members, families and chartered organizations remain committed to the Boy Scouts of America," said Deron Smith, spokesman for the BSA.
In anticipation of the change the BSA has set up a new set of guidelines regarding privacy as it relates to showering, dressing and sleeping arrangements. For example, “The adult leaders have the discretion to arrange private showering times and locations,” the BSA says. And, regarding sleeping arrangements, “If a Scout or parent of a Scout makes a request to not tent with another Scout, their wishes should be honored.”
The organization is also about to install Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates as it’s new President. Gates, who served as Secretary under President Obama, was supportive of the repeal of ‘Don’t Ask Don’t Tell’.
"We see the installment of former Defense Secretary Robert Gates as the BSA's next president as another reason to be optimistic about the future of Scouting," said Zach Wahls, co-founder of Scouts for Equality.
"We know that change won't happen overnight, and we're ready to do the work," Wahls continued.
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