Scouts’ progress: The BSA takes a big step against discrimination

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Happy new era to the Boy Scouts of America — especially the scouts who, now for the first time, don’t have to hide the fact that they are gay.

After an internal debate that grew public, the organization changed policy last May, with backing from 60 percent of the 1,400 voting members of its National Council, to allow youths who are openly gay to join. The policy takes effect today.

Despite threats and warnings against the new approach from some of the churches that sponsor BSA units, most have decided to keep hosting the troops and packs that meet monthly in their parish halls and basements. And why not? The aim of the Boy Scouts of America is to teach community service, leadership skills, self-reliance and citizenship.

The welcome policy change comes with the proviso that “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 in the school football team or the marching band.

The BSA has 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 happen to be gay.

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