Boy Scouts of America lowers age limit for programs, affecting openly gay youth members

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In a move which will impact on openly gay youth members over the age of 18, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has reduced its age of eligibility for youth programs down from 21.

The move, announced late on Tuesday evening, means that any openly gay members aged between 18 and 20 years old will in 2015 be expected to meet adult member standards.

From 1 January 2014, the BSA changed its policy to allow openly gay youth members, but maintained a ban on “open or avowed” gay adult staff or volunteers.

The decision was made in February to lower the age of eligibility for programs such as Venturing, by the BSA’s National Executive Board in February.

The Venturing program, and similar, represented 220,000 youth members, or 8% of the BSA membership back in 2012.

The main BSA program – the Boy Scouts, already limits youth membership to 18, with many members believing they could remain a member of the BSA by continuing on into Venturing program, or the Sea Scouts.

From around Spring 2015, such members will still be allowed to participate in those programs, but will be made to register as adult members, and therefore will be subject to adult membership rules.

A resolution, published by NBC stipulates: “That effective as soon as can be practically implemented in the judgement of the Chief Scout Executive (BSA’s top professional leader), that any person age 18 or older seeking to register as a member of the Boy Scouts of America or any program offered or sponsored by the Boy Scouts of America shall be subject to the BSA adult membership requirements pertaining to, youth protection, criminal background checks and membership standards.”

A BSA spokesman told NBC that the decision to alter the age of eligibility came earlier than 2013.