In a statement posted to their website today, the Boy Scouts of America's Greater New York Councils reacted to the history-making vote to approve a resolution that will allow gay youth to participate by reaffirming their policy of inclusion for gay adults, a policy that the Connecticut Yankee Council previously announced last week:
"The Boy Scouts of America is a youth-centered organization and the Greater New York Councils is pleased that openly gay youth can participate in Scouting’s meaningful leadership development programs across the country. However, we remain extremely disappointed that the resolution did not include gay adult volunteers and we will continue to work towards a fully inclusive national policy aligned with our own. We strongly believe that both gay adults and youth must be welcomed in Scouting."
The new membership standards, which state that 'no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone,' will take effect on January 1, 2014. The Boy Scouts' ban on gay adults will remain intact, however.
United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan also released a statement today supporting the decision, while also advocating for full inclusion of gay leaders and parents. In a statement on the Department of Education website he said:
"The Boy Scouts of America has been supporting the learning and development of youth for more than a century. The Scouts have helped boys gain skills in camping, hiking and nature, but also engineering, robotics and medicine. And scouting has been the foundation for character development for millions of young men. I can't think of a better lesson in character than one that teaches our young people to value the contributions each of us makes and respect one another. The Scouts have made a historic step in the right direction, and I encourage them to continue to move forward in ensuring equality throughout the organization."
This morning the White House spokesman, Shin Inouye, said in a statement to the Washington Blade that President Obama "welcomes the decision" to allow gay youth to participate in Scouting, but that like a majority of Americans, he "continues to believe that leadership positions in the Scouts should be open to all, regardless of sexual orientation."
President Obama, as is customary, is also the honorary President of the BSA and his support adds a very powerful voice to the chorus of those now urging the BSA to take the next step.
"Gay parents and adults should be accepted into Scouting and our campaign for change will continue until that happens," said GLAAD spokesperson Rich Ferraro. "As openly gay youth begin participating in Scouting and earn Eagle Rank, the Boy Scouts will come to realize that gay Americans and our families only strengthen Scouting as an institution."
GLAAD, in association with Change.org, Scouts for Equality (SFE), and the Inclusive Scouting Network (ISN), delivered over 1.8 million Change.org signatures to the BSA urging them to drop their discriminatory ban on gay members.
For photos, video, resources and more, please visit http://glaad.org/scouts
For a full timeline of events leading up to today's vote, please visit http://glaad.org/scouts