Boy Scouts of America to allow openly gay members beginning January 1

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The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) will begin allowing openly gay members effective January 1, 2014.

While they have received some criticism from conservative groups and churches, the BSA says there hasn’t been fallout with any major sponsors—the Roman Catholic and Mormon churches have not rescinded funding or support.

“There hasn’t been a whole lot of fallout,” Brad Haddock, a BSA national executive board member, told the Associated Press. “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.’”

Haddock added that the BSA is prepared for “isolated pockets” of difficulty—for example, rules regarding tent-mates and group showers—but he seems certain that the new policy is in the best interests for Scouts.

“My hope is there will be the same effect this January 1 as the Y2K scare. It’s business as usual, nothing happens and we move forward,” said Haddock.

The policy was passed in May with a 60 percent favor from the BSA’s 1,400-person National Council. Following its implementation on New Year’s Day, gay prospective members will no longer be barred from Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, or co-ed Venturers.

However, BSA documents do reveal that gay members will still have some restrictions.

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

The BSA has also put together a Q&A to answer some of the questions the new policy might arouse. For example:

Q: Could a Scout march in uniform in a gay pride parade?

BSA: 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.”

In regards to sleeping arrangements and showers, the BSA says “adult leaders have the discretion to arrange private showering times and locations…If a Scout or parents of a Scout makes a request to not tent with another Scout, their wishes should be honored.”

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