Gay Boy Scouts to Join BSA Starting Jan. 1

The Boy Scouts of America will begin accepting openly gay youths on New Year's Day after a very public debate earlier in the year over whether or not the BSA should change its decade's old policy.

Some members of the BSA are hopeful the new policy will come and pass without much extensive notoriety.

"My hope is there will be the same effect this Jan. 1 as the Y2K scare," Brad Haddock, a BSA national executive board member who chairs the policy implementation committee, told AP. "It's business as usual, nothing happens and we move forward."

Asked whether the change has affected membership or caused other organizations to drop their support of the BSA, Haddock insisted the effect has been negligible.

"There hasn't been a whole lot of fallout," said Haddock. "If a church said they wouldn't work with us, we'd have a church right down the street say, 'We'll take the troop.'"

Still others have felt the new guidelines showed a lack of resolve on the side of BSA delegates who insisted they would stand up for morality and family values in the face of mounting public pressure.

"Sadly, the Boy Scouts' legacy of producing great leaders has become yet another casualty of moral compromise. Unfortunately, Boy Scout delegates capitulated to strong-arm tactics and abandoned the timeless values that have served the organization well for more than 100 years," Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said in a previous statement.

"The delegates succumbed to a concerted and manipulative effort by the national BSA leadership despite the BSA's own survey showing 61 percent of its members in opposition to changing the policy," he added.

While the new policy will be more inclusive it is not without limits. Under the new membership policy, youths can no longer be banned from the Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts or coed Venturers program for reasons based solely on sexual orientation.

"Any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting," reads one BSA document. "No member may use Scouting to promote or advance any social or political position or agenda, including on the matter of sexual orientation."

There are still grey areas as to what is allowed and what is not, but any support, in any fashion, that opposes BSA guidelines, can only be done without wearing any BSA markings.

"Each youth member is free as an individual to express his or her thoughts or take action on political or social issues but must not use Scouting's official uniforms and insignia when doing so."

The new guidelines also state that while a scout's sexual orientation can be disclosed and discussed it cannot be done to the point of distraction.

"While a youth member may acknowledge his or her sexual preference, that acknowledgment may not reach the level of distraction, which may include advocacy, promotion, or the distribution of information of a sexual nature."

The new policy is only for scouts as the ban on gay scout leaders remains in effect.

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