This story originally appeared on KERA News.
Update: Irving-based Boy Scouts of America voted to lift it’s blanket ban on openly gay adult leaders Monday evening. This change will go into effect immediately. Below is a statement posted on the Boy Scouts’ Newsroom Blog:
On Monday, July 27, the National Executive Board ratified a resolution that removes the national restriction on openly gay adult leaders and employees. Of those present and voting, 79 percent voted in favor of the resolution. The resolution was recommended for ratification by the Executive Committee earlier this month. The resolution is effective immediately.
Chartered organizations will continue to select their adult leaders and religious chartered organizations may continue to use religious beliefs as criteria for selecting adult leaders, including matters of sexuality. 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. This change also respects the right of religious chartered organizations to choose adult volunteer leaders whose beliefs are consistent with their own.
For 12 years, scouting was a way of life for Eric Hay. He made Eagle Scout, he was a camp counselor, he held leadership positions, but he wasn’t out. At 24, Hay is now openly bi-sexual.
“It was hard for me to believe that something like that would be going on in an organization that I love so much,” Hay says.
Hay has been involved with a group called Scouts for Equality for almost three years now, cheering when the ban on gay scouts was lifted two years ago. Today, he’s excited about the option to get back into scouting as a mentor.
“Down the road when I want to be an adult leader I can do so and all the great people I’ve met through my time with Scouts For Equality, they’ll also get to,” says Hay.
Lifting a blanket ban on gay adults doesn’t mean some scout units still won’t allow them. Groups backed by religious organizations will be able to choose leadership in line with church beliefs, for example.
Hay says that’s OK, this step forward will allow him to be honest about his sexual orientation if the topic is broached.
“If in conversation it’s brought up, I don’t have to lie about it, I don’t have to make something up or just not comment,” says Hay. “It’s not like we’re trying to introduce any kind of sexual content into the Boy Scout, we’re just trying to be who we are.”
Hay and Scouts for Equality are also working to create what’s called “inclusive units.” That’s a scouting group tolerant of different lifestyles and sexual orientations.