gay_kids_allowed_in_boy_scouts_of_america_from_1_january_2014Openly gay youth will finally be allowed into the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) as from the 1st of January 2014.

In May, the BSA leadership voted to allow gay youth to join the movement after growing pressure to change its 103-year-old anti-gay policy.

The new policy applies to the boys-only Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts as well as the Venturers programme, which allows both boys and girls to take part.

AP reported that aside from some smaller churches ending their sponsorship of Scout units and the creation of an alternative conservative scouting group, Trail Life USA, little has changed because of the more gay friendly stance.

Larger supporters of the movement, including Roman Catholic and Mormon churches, have not pulled out.

The BSA, however, has issued a number of guidelines with regard to gay scouts. These include not allowing members to take part in Pride events in their uniforms.

Any scout not comfortable sharing a tent with a gay scout may request to be tented elsewhere. The BSA is also recommending that group showering be avoided.

A gay scout may acknowledge his or her sexual preference, but their actions may not include “advocacy, promotion, or the distribution of information of a sexual nature”.

The BSA also reiterated that any sexual activities, heterosexual or homosexuality, will not be tolerated.

Despite the new policy, the BSA continues to be criticised for still not allowed openly gay adults to serve as Scout leaders, a position supported by 53% of Americans, according to a December 2012 USA Today/Gallup poll.

Because the BSA is a private organisation, US courts have in the past repeatedly upheld its right to apply membership restrictions, even if these are discriminatory.

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