As of Jan. 1, gay Scouts will be allowed to remain in or join the Boy Scouts.
Scouts for Equality founder Zach Wahls said his group will continue to advocate for a more inclusive policy. Wahls is an Eagle Scout who was raised by two moms.
“Opening membership to gay youth is a historic first step toward full equality in the BSA, but we’re not there yet,” Wahls said.
Under the current policy, Wahl’s parents are still banned from being a part of their son’s Scouting experience, and gay Eagle Scouts will still be kicked out on their 18th birthday.
Before gay teens are allowed to join starting this week, the Boy Scouts have issued new guidelines. The new policies include tentmates, showers and whether Scouts can march in Pride parades.
The change in policy earlier this year was prompted by a loss of donations from a number of corporations because Boy Scout policy violates nondiscrimination requirements of these companies. In 2012, Scouts for Equality began questioning companies about their giving policies and how they relate to the Boy Scouts.
Although the BSA policy was relaxed for boys under the age of 18, that didn’t satisfy corporate giving guidelines. Earlier this month, Lockheed Martin joined the list of companies no longer giving to the BSA.
Included in the new guidelines, Scouts may march in Pride parades as individuals but may not march in uniform or display any Boy Scout emblem.
The policy calls for moving away from group showers and toilets. Requests to change tentmates, if one of the boys is gay, should be honored.
“While a youth member may acknowledge his or her sexual preference, that acknowledgment may not reach the level of distraction, which may include advocacy, promotion, or the distribution of information of a sexual nature,” say the new guidelines.
Wahls sees reason for optimism, however, because Robert Gates is the incoming president of the Boy Scouts of America. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” ended under Gates’ watch while he was Secretary of Defense.