It’s a historic time for the Boy Scouts of America.
The organization is now accepting openly gay boys as scouts after Boy Scout leaders voted for the new policy Thursday. A local Boy Scout leader talked about the vote on Friday and what it could possibly mean for the organization.
More than 6,500 youth are part of the Boy Scouts of the Greater Western Reserve Council, serving five counties across northeast Ohio. The group’s executive director, Jason Wolf, said they were prepared to support whatever their leaders voted for, and they respect the integrity of the decision-making process.
“We believe this update to our policy will allow kids who sincerely want to be part of our scouting experience to experience this life-changing program, while remaining true to the long-standing virtues of scouting,” Wolf said.
The Boy Scouts of America National Council voted by secret ballot Thursday to lift the ban on openly gay members. Sixty-one percent supported the proposal.
The topic has been debated for decades.
“No matter how you feel about this issue, kids are better off in scouting. Our vision is to serve every kid. We want every kid to have a place where they belong, to learn, and grow, and feel protected,” said Boy Scouts of America President Wayne Perry.
One issue Boy Scout leaders are still not sure about is how the new policy could affect sponsorship. The Boy Scouts are supported and chartered by many religious organizations, most of which are opposed to homosexuality.
“We hope that they will continue to believe in the scouting program and help us to continue to deliver one of the most powerful, life-changing programs that exist for young people,” Wolf said.
The new membership policy will go into effect Jan. 1. The new policy does not include openly gay adults. That ban is still in place.