“For far too long, this issue has divided and distracted us,” said the BSA’s president, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates. “Now it’s time to unite behind our shared belief in the extraordinary power of Scouting to be a force for good.”
Under the BSA’s new policy, gay leaders who were previously removed from Scouting because of the ban would have the opportunity to reapply for volunteer positions. If otherwise qualified, a gay adult would be eligible to serve as a Scoutmaster or unit leader.
“This change allows Scouting’s members and parents to select local units, chartered to organizations with similar beliefs, that best meet the needs of their families,” BSA said in astatement on their website. “This change also respects the right of religious chartered organizations to choose adult volunteer leaders whose beliefs are consistent with their own.”
Initial reactions to the decision from groups on both sides suggested the issue would remain divisive.
The Mormon church, which sponsors more Scout units that any other organization, said it was “deeply troubled” by the decision. Church officials suggested they would look into the possibility of forming their own organization to replace the Boy Scouts.
Read More: Mormons hint they may bolt Boy Scouts