The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

May 24, 2013

Boy Scouts approve plan to accept openly gay boys

(Continued)

"I'm so proud of how far we've come, but until there's a place for everyone in Scouting, my work will continue," said Jennifer Tyrrell, whose ouster as a Cub Scout den leader in Ohio because she is lesbian launched a national protest movement.

Pascal Tessier, a 16-year-old Boy Scout from Maryland, was elated by the outcome.

Tessier, who is openly gay, is on track to earn his Eagle Scout award and was concerned that his goal would be thwarted if the proposed change had been rejected.

"I was thinking that today could be my last day as a Boy Scout," Tessier said. "Obviously, for gay Scouts like me, this vote is life-changing."

The vote followed what the BSA described as "the most comprehensive listening exercise in Scouting's history" to gauge opinions.

Back in January, the BSA executive committee had suggested a plan to give sponsors of local Scout units the option of admitting gays as both youth members and adult leaders or continuing to exclude them. However, the plan won little praise, and the BSA changed course after assessing responses to surveys sent out starting in February to members of the Scouting community.

Of the more than 200,000 leaders, parents and youth members who responded, 61 percent supported the current policy of excluding gays, while 34 percent opposed it. Most parents of young Scouts, as well as youth members themselves, opposed the ban.

The proposal approved Thursday was seen as a compromise, and the Scouts stressed that they would not condone sexual conduct by any Scout — gay or straight.

"The Boy Scouts of America will not sacrifice its mission, or the youth served by the movement, by allowing the organization to be consumed by a single, divisive and unresolved societal issue," the BSA said in a statement.

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