With the start of the new year, the Boy Scouts will implement a major change to its membership rules.
For the first time, openly gay boys will be accepted into the organization. About 60% of the Boy Scouts voting members approved the change back in May, dropping the long-time ban on openly gay scouts. While openly gay Boy Scouts will be permitted beginning on Jan. 1, openly gay adults will continue to be forbidden to hold leadership roles in the organization, the Associated Press notes.
The move to allow openly gay Boy Scouts came after a wrenching national debate. Openly gay members of the Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts of Venturers will be restricted from promoting political agendas — marching in a Gay Pride parade while in uniform, for instance — or from engaging in sexual conduct. The same rules apply to heterosexual Boy Scouts.
Boy Scouts leaders hope that the implementation of the new policy won’t cause any further commotion. Some religious organizations have dropped Boy Scouts support due to the new policy, but the organization has not seen a mass defection of churches, many of which sponsor local troops.
In June, construction equipment manufacturer Caterpillar (CAT) announced that it would withdraw financial support for the Boy Scouts while the ban on openly gay adults remains in effect.