On July 27, 2015, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) officially lifted its long standing ban on adult leaders who are openly gay. The Scouts’ 80-member National Executive Board approved the resolution that drops its blanket restriction on openly gay adult leaders and employees. This comes on the heels of a pivotal speech in May 2015 in which Robert Gates, president of the Boy Scouts of America, urged the lifting of the ban, saying that it was “unsustainable.”
In 2013, the Boy Scouts’ National Council removed its restriction on membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation but they kept the ban of its gay adult leaders. This policy change was criticized by people and groups on both sides of the issue; LGBTQ organizations felt it didn’t go far enough and religious groups were against allowing openly gay youth to be members. Prior to this and for more than thirty years, the Boy Scouts of America’s official position was to deny membership to individuals (members and leaders) who were openly gay.
This lesson provides an opportunity for students to learn more about the evolution of the Boy Scouts’ position on gay members and leaders, analyze Robert Gates’ recent speech on the issue and explore students’ own points of view by writing persuasive essays.