Robert Gates, the president of the Boy
Scouts of America (BSA), on Thursday called for an end to the BSA's
longstanding policy of excluding gay adult leaders.
The BSA ended its policy banning openly
gay scouts in January, 2014, but adults are not allowed to
participate in the program.
Gates, who as secretary of defense
oversaw the end of the military's “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy,
made his remarks during the BSA's annual national meeting in Atlanta.
“We must deal with the world as it
is, not as we might wish it to be,” Gates warned the group's
national leadership. “The status quo in our movement's membership
standards cannot be sustained.”
Gates said that he would no longer
enforce the ban on chapters who wish to include openly gay leaders.
“We cannot ignore growing internal
challenges to our current membership policy from some councils,” he
said. “Nor can we ignore the social, political and juridical
changes taking place in our country – changes taking place at a
pace over this past year no one anticipated.”
One such chapter is the Boy Scouts'
Greater New York Councils, which
last month hired Pascal Tessier, an 18-year-old openly gay Eagle
Scout, despite the group's national ban.
Zach Wahls, executive director of
Scouts for Equality, said in a statement that he was “proud to see
Dr. Gates charting a course towards full equality in the BSA.”