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Boy Scouts Lift National Ban on Gay Scout Leaders

Last night the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) voted to ends its national ban on gay scout leaders and employees. While this vote represents an important step forward for the BSA, the resolution also allows chartered organizations to select their leaders based on their religious beliefs, therefore allowing individual troops to continue to ban gay scout leaders. In 2013, Rabbi David Saperstein, then-Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, wrote a letter calling on the BSA to end their ban on gay scouts and gay scout leaders and called for the BSA to establish a non-discrimination policy that includes sexual orientation. The BSA eventually lifted their ban on gay scouts, and last month, Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner, director of the RAC, wrote a letter calling on the BSA to lift their ban on gay scout leaders and affirm that transgender boys can serve as both scouts and leaders. Although the ban on gay scout leaders has now been lifted, the BSA has remained silent on transgender inclusion.

In response to the BSA’s vote to lift their ban on gay scout leaders, Rabbi Jonah Dov Pesner released the following statement:

“The Boy Scouts of America’s vote to lift their ban on gay scout leaders represents an important step towards full equality for scouts and leaders no matter their sexual orientation. This decision reflects the fact that leadership ability is never determined by sexual orientation.

While we applaud this important decision by the BSA, we are disappointed that the organization will continue to allow individual troops to choose to discriminate based on sexual orientation and that the BSA has not taken a formal stance against discrimination based on gender identity. Reflecting our belief that the stamp of the Divine is present in every individual who is thus worthy of dignity and respect, the Reform Movement has called for an end to such forms of discrimination and has long urged the Boy Scouts of America to adopt a national non-discrimination policy.

In 2001, the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism recommended that Reform Congregations withdraw their sponsorship and stop housing Boy Scouts of America troops because of the BSA’s discriminatory ban on gay scouts and gay scout leaders. In the wake of today’s vote and Boy Scouts of America’s previous vote to lift their ban on gay scouts, the CSA will swiftly review its recommendation to our synagogues.  We remain strongly committed to ensuring full equality and inclusion of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.”

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Jordan Dashow

About Jordan Dashow

Jordan Dashow is a 2014-2015 Eisendrath Legislative Assistant at the RAC. He graduated in 2014 from Tufts University and is originally from Plainview, NY where he is a member of Manetto Hill Jewish Center.

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