Boy Scouts boss ends term defending policy allowing gay adults and members

The Boy Scouts of America’s president Robert Gates ended his term defending a policy allowing gay adult leaders and youth members.

Robert Gates finished his two-year term on Thursday, and spoke of challenges overcome, saying the BSA would now be able to fix the issue of declining membership numbers.

The former US Secretary of Defence said the move to permit individual chapters to allow out gay youth members and adult leaders was a “difficult decision”.

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He went on, however to say that the move had been approved by “the overwhelming preponderance of sponsoring institutions and volunteer leaders.”

“Most importantly, through these challenges we have maintained our unity as a movement,” Gates added.

“Significantly, membership in recent months has begun to move in a positive direction for the first time in many years.”

The BSA president will be replaced by the CEO of AT&T Randall Stephenson.

Following a long discussion, in 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.

However, at a Scouts meeting in May 2015, Gates suggested the ban was “unsustainable”, and could lead to costly court cases.

The BSA’s national executive board then ratified a decision to lift its blanket ban on adult gay scout leaders.

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

Gates at the time said the policy could lead to costly legal action.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has been affiliated with the BSA for 100 years, said it was “deeply troubled” by the decision and would review the church’s “century-long association with Scouting” as a result.