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No more ban on openly gay Boy Scouts

This was a big month for the Boy Scouts of America. A years-long battle came to an abrupt conclusion on Jan. 1, when the ban on openly gay scout members finally was lifted. Boy Scouts no longer have to keep their sexual orientation a secret.

This was a big month for the Boy Scouts of America. A years-long battle came to an abrupt conclusion on Jan. 1, when the ban on openly gay scout members finally was lifted. Boy Scouts no longer have to keep their sexual orientation a secret.

More than 60 percent of the Scouts National Council of 1,232 delegates from across the country voted to lift the ban. However, a ban on gay leaders was not voted on and remains in place. The decision has drawn mixed reaction throughout the massive organization, which had 2.6 million youth members -- including Cub Scouts -- and more than a million adult members in 2012, according to the Boy Scouts of America.

"I feel it should be changed," Duluth Eagle Scout Samuel Johnson said of the ban. "This was a good decision."

"I think the ban being lifted will cause negative controversy just because there have been problems accepting it in the past," fellow Eagle Scout Nicholas Roningen said of the resistance some have to the new policy.

Indeed, the Boy Scouts of America association states that younger teens and parents support the policy, while people older than 50 have a hard time with it. Parents in three of four BSA regions opposed the old policy. According to the group's website: "While a majority of adults in the Scouting community support the BSA's old policy of excluding open and avowed homosexuals, younger parents and teens tend to oppose the old policy," the statement reads. "Views among parents under the age of 50 have changed significantly in the past three years, with a majority now opposing the BSA current policy."

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The lifting of the ban has gotten stronger reactions from some sponsor groups, including some churches (more than

70 percent of Boy Scout units are sponsored by religious groups). Trail Life USA is seen as a Christian alternative to the new open-to-gay-members Boy Scouts. The association was established on the same day as Boy Scouts of America.

And some lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender activists continue to criticize the scouts, arguing that the new policy change does not go far enough because it continues to bar gay adults from participating.

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