Boy Scouts open ranks to gay youth on Jan. 1

UNDATED (AP) — The Boy Scouts of America will accept openly gay youths starting on New Year's Day.

It's a historic change that's prompted the BSA to ponder a host of potential complications -- ranging from policies on tentmates and showers to whether Scouts can march in gay pride parades.

Yet despite their be-prepared approach, BSA leaders are rooting for the change to be a non-event.

Some churches are dropping their sponsorship of Scout units because of the new policy and some families are switching to a new conservative alternative called Trail Life USA. But massive defections haven't materialized and most major sponsors, including the Roman Catholic and Mormon churches, are maintaining ties.

The new policy was approved in May, with support from 60 percent of the 1,400 voting members of the BSA's National Council. The vote followed bitter nationwide debate, and was accompanied by an announcement that the BSA would continue to exclude openly gay adults from leadership positions.

Sound: 9:32 p.m. EST

%@AP Links

APPHOTO NY692: Bill Helfand, the scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 55 in Houston, stands for a photo in Houston on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2013. In the wake of the Boy Scouts of America changing its policy to accept openly gay youths, Helfand said membership in his troop has remained steady at about 225 boys. "We never considered sexual orientation, and I don't think many troops really did," he says. "I don't know whether we had Scouts who are homosexual. I don't inquire ... It's not a matter of concern." (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan) (19 Dec 2013)

<<APPHOTO NY692 (12/19/13)££

APPHOTO NY693: Former Boy Scout and Scoutmaster Ron Orr stands outside his home in North Richland Hills, Texas on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013. Orr, a business consultant, is signing up local units for a new conservative alternative to the Boy Scouts of America called Trail Life USA, after the BSA, in the most contentious change of membership policy in their 103-year history, opened their ranks to openly gay boys. Orr is part of a family that has four generations of Eagle Scouts. His older son recently earned his Eagle rank and his younger son was on the verge of doing likewise. But Orr said he could not stand by after the policy change. (AP Photo/LM Otero) (18 Dec 2013)

<<APPHOTO NY693 (12/18/13)££

APPHOTO NY691: FILE - In this June 30, 2013 file photo, Boy Scouts from the Chief Seattle Council carry U.S. flags as they prepare to march in the Gay Pride Parade in downtown Seattle. The Boy Scouts of America, in the most contentious change of membership policy in a 103-year history, will accept openly gay youths in Scout units starting on New Year's Day 2014. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File) (30 Jun 2013)

<<APPHOTO NY691 (06/30/13)££

©2014 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.