Boy Scouts of America ends ban on gay adults with immediate effect

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The Boy Scouts of America has lifted its ban on gay adult leaders with immediate effect.

The BSA’s national executive board on Monday ratified a decision made earlier this year to lift its blanket ban on gay scout leaders.

The lifting of the ban takes immediate effect as 79 percent of the board gave approval, concluding that the policy “was no longer legally defensible.”

While the ban means any troop can choose to allow or ban gay scout leaders, and is hailed as a huge step forward for the organisation, some have said it does not go far enough.

“This change allows Scouting’s members and parents to select local units, chartered by organizations with similar beliefs, that best meet the needs of their families,” read a statement from the BSA leadership.

“For far too long this issue has divided and distracted us,” former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Scouting’s current president, added in a statement.

“Now it’s time to unite behind our shared belief in the extraordinary power of Scouting to be a force for good in a community and in the lives of its youth members.”

The 17-member executive committee of BSA earlier this month backed a resolution that would end the organisation’s blanket ban on gay leaders.

Gaining final approval from the National Executive Board was the final hurdle to resolving the issue which has dogged the Boy Scouts for years and led to bitter divisions within it.

Some have said the step does not go far enough.

“Today’s vote by the Boy Scouts of America to allow gay, lesbian and bisexual adults to work and volunteer is a welcome step toward erasing a stain on this important organization,” said Human Rights Campaign (HRC) President Chad Griffin.

“But including an exemption for troops sponsored by religious organizations undermines and diminishes the historic nature of today’s decision.  Discrimination should have no place in the Boy Scouts, period.”

“BSA officials should now demonstrate true leadership and begin the process of considering a full national policy of inclusion that does not allow discrimination against anyone because of who they are,” Griffin said.

Some of the anti-gay Republican Presidential candidates have hit out at the decision – with Rick Perry claiming the BSA is “better off” not allowing openly gay scoutmasters.

The former Governor of Texas claimed: “I believe that scouting would be better off, if they didn’t have openly gay scoutmasters.”

Fellow 2016 presidential hopeful, Scott Walker who launched campaign this week, also voiced his support of a ban on gay troop leaders in the Boy Scouts of America.