Happy new era to the Boy Scouts of America — especially to those scouts who, for the first time, don’t have to hide that they are gay.
After an internal debate that went public, the organization changed policy last May — with backing from 60 percent of the 1,400 voting members of its national council — to allow openly gay youths to join the Scouts. The policy took effect Jan. 1.
Despite threats against the new approach from some churches that sponsor Scout units, most have decided to keep hosting the troops and packs that meet in their parish halls and basements. And why not? The aim of the Scouts is to teach leadership skills, citizenship, and community service.
The welcome policy change comes with this proviso: “Any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting.” No problem there; these are minors, for the most part, and sexual activity of any sort should be as unwelcome in the Boy Scouts as on the football team or in the marching band.
The Scouts have taken a major step forward by ending this discriminatory policy against boys. Now it needs to extend the same fair treatment to adults, by allowing leaders who are gay.