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Fairfield County Boy Scouts Council Will Allow Gay Members

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Updated at 6:30 p.m.: FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- The Boy Scouts of America on Thursday voted to end its longstanding policy of forbidding openly gay youths to participate in its activities. The new policy of the Connecticut Yankee Council in Fairfield County goes a step further, allowing openly gay leaders as well.

Original story: FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- The Boy Scouts of America's Connecticut Yankee Council, which includes many towns in Fairfield County, will allow openly gay people to join, the council president said in a letter on its website .

This local policy breaks with the national policy banning gay people from Boy Scouting. The Connecticut Yankee Council serves Boy Scouts in 37 towns, including Stamford, Darien, New Canaan, Norwalk, Wilton, Danbury, Ridgefield, Redding, Fairfield, Westport, Weston and Easton.

The announcement came as Boy Scout leaders from around the country gathered for a vote Thursday in Grapevine, Texas, on a proposal that would permit openly gay youths — but not openly gay adult leaders — to participate.

But the local policy is way ahead of that, allowing both boys and adults. "Scouting in the Connecticut Yankee Council is open to all youth and adults who subscribe to the values of the Scout Oath and Law regardless of their personal sexual orientation," the letter says.

Here is the full text of the letter:

Dear Connecticut Yankee Council Scouting family,

The Boy Scouts of America, Connecticut Yankee Council is committed to providing high quality programs that deliver leadership skills, citizenship training, character development and personal fitness to young people in 37 communities in southwestern Connecticut. We are committed to our mission, we respect other's viewpoints, and we are welcoming of others.

Scouting in the Connecticut Yankee Council is open to all youth and adults who subscribe to the values of the Scout Oath and Law regardless of their personal sexual orientation. All our Scouts and leaders must display the highest levels of good conduct and any sexual conduct within Scouting is unacceptable. Our charter partners retain the responsibility to select the best possible leadership for their units consistent with their moral values.

Our Scouts and leaders repeatedly pledge to respect all people and defend the rights of others. Prejudice, intolerance and unlawful discrimination of any form are unacceptable within our membership.

By remaining true to our values, and keeping our conviction of preparing young people for life, we strive to expand our capacity to serve more youth through high quality programs.

Sincerely, Michael Abrahamson Council President