Boy Scouts lift ban on gay scouts, still consider us pedophiles when we hit 18

Whatever.  I’m glad the Boy Scouts took a step towards non-discrimination, but telling a young boy that he’s no longer a pervert because he hasn’t hit the ripe pedophile age of 18, is still a huge problem, in my humble opinion.

It’s like accepting black children in your swimming pool, but claiming that letting the adults in is just a step too far.

Not to mention, what message does that send to children, gay and straight?  That, yes, be nice to your fellow soon-t0-be-pedophile gay scouts because they haven’t become a threat to children yet, but they will in a few years.  Gee, thanks.

According to ThinkProgress, the Boy Scouts’ National Council voted 61%-38% in favor of lifting the ban on gay scouts.  But as I mentioned, the Boy Scouts still ban gay people from leadership and volunteer positions, including serving as scoutmasters.

Also interesting, McKay Coppins at Buzzfeed notes that the Mormons, who have a huge role in the Boy Scouts, did not break with the Boy Scouts over this.  There was speculation that they might:



That is a good sign.  It’s one of the first genuinely not-unhelpful things the Mormons have done on gay issues to date.  So perhaps there’s hope for them yet.  Having said that, the proof is going to be in a pudding far bigger than simply abstaining on this issue, after all the damage they’ve caused.  But it’s still good news, and a positive sign, that they managed to restrain themselves.

The NYT understood the contradiction in the Boy Scout’s new policy:

But the decision is unlikely to bring peace to the Boy Scouts as they struggle to keep a foothold in a swirling cultural landscape, ensuring continued lobbying and debate in the months and year to come. The group put off the even more divisive question of whether to allow openly gay adults and leaders, and those on both sides of the debate predicted that, with the resolution’s passage, the Boy Scouts would soon be forced to start allowing gay adults, whether by lawsuits or embarrassment at the twisted logic of forcing an Eagle Scout who turns 18 to quit.


And there’s another problem.  The Times mentions that UPS, Merck, and Intel, among others, stopped funding the Boy Scouts because they have non-discrimination policies that forbid it.  Well, here’s the rub: The Boy Scouts still discriminate by age and by position in the organization.  That’s still discrimination, and those companies will still be violating their policies if they fund an organization that won’t hire gay adults in leadership or volunteer positions because it thinks they’re pedophiles.

If any of these companies start funding the Boy Scouts, they’d better have a darn good explanation for how you can be half-pregnant, or half-a-bigot.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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81 Responses to “Boy Scouts lift ban on gay scouts, still consider us pedophiles when we hit 18”

  1. Randy says:

    Sure, and how does this new policy change that? And what about those who are 14 and can’t just up and leave for New York?

  2. Randy says:

    Possibly. And possibly not. But this is a big country, and you can find acceptance in many places, even some unikely places. But you would rather them keep the old policy and insure that there is no possibility of acceptance for that gay teen anywhere.

    Look — I”M SORRY the new policy isn’t as good as you want. I’m SORRY that the world doesn’t run as fast as you would like it. I’m really really SORRY that the BSA doesn’t do everything that you want it to. But it’s the reality. And the reality is that we have to accept incremental progress. If you don’t like it, then you are free to lobby the BSA and tell them how and why they are wrong. There are 1400 members of the council — instead of fighting me, perhaps you should contact each and every one of them and fight them.

    But no — much easier to complain about me than to actually do any work, or even learn what the issues are. Having been a Boy Scout myself, I know that the issues are much more complicated than simply stamping your feet and complaining about how the world isn’t to your satisfaction.

  3. Randy says:

    There are plenty of scout troops that are totally accepting. Accepting to the point where they were ready to break with the BSA if ti continued it policy.

    Now they can actually be 100% accepting and remain in good standing with the BSA. But you think that’s bad. And that’s ridiculous.

  4. Randy says:

    So you would prefer the old policy? I don’t understand what your point is. First, you don’t care about the organization, but then you care a lot — please choose one or the other.

    And who said I was settling? I will still work for and hope that change will come within as it has already, and soon the adult ban will be removed.

    So I guess you would tell the BSA that until they are ready to lift the whole ban, they should keep the whole ban in place? That’s absurd and it only hurts the gay kids who are in scouts.

  5. Randy says:

    I do, because I was actually a Boy Scout. And it is NOT any of the things you say it is. I wish you would know something about a subject before you shoot your mouth off and look like an idiot.

  6. geoffalnutt says:

    So how is it that a Catholic priest who molests young boys is protected by the church and yet an openly gay Scout Master is somehow a threat? This is actually worse than doing nothing!

  7. Rambie says:

    Mr Coppings has not paying attention. The LDS Chruch has stated for weeks they supported this –I suspect in a “pray the gay away” tactic– and was letting their delegates vote however they wanted. What better way to indoctrinate gay youth to be straight?

    This is a half-way measure by the BSA to try and save their corporate sponsors.

  8. karmanot says:

    They are quietly installing chastity belts into all magic underwear for boys under 18.

  9. karmanot says:

    rotfl……scouting ends when the caftans come out.

  10. karmanot says:

    “so half a cup of justice is better than no cup of justice.” I couldn’t agree less. Do you think MLK died for a half cup of justice? Even now that battle rages on..If you settle for less than full civil rights, your wish will be ‘accommodated’ nicely if at all. Your sense of ‘progress’ is otherwise known as collaboration.

  11. karmanot says:

    Exactly! The accommodating Stockholm Syndrome drives me crazy.

  12. karmanot says:

    Oh yeah. In my day the BST South of Market in SF Had that badge.

  13. karmanot says:

    The LDS is not changing its position—not in the least. They are just in a flux of strategy due to the backlash of Prop 8 and Romney’s disastrously bad publicity.

  14. karmanot says:

    “I have always disliked trashy Mormons.” I feel just the opposite. Trashy Mormons are fun. They are among the most adept dunewiggles in P Town.

  15. karmanot says:

    Oh god, still carrying churchy crap on your back. “the more acceptability for society” How’s that Stockholm Syndrome working out for you?.

  16. karmanot says:

    You have internalize the enemy’s condemnations. Who gives a s*** what they think, when the bigots cross the line fight.

  17. karmanot says:

    There is nothing more exciting than the meme of incremental civil rights. Gay couples banned from the Immigration Bill anyone. Calm down—hell no. Why is it always the discriminated against, who must slow down and be patient?

  18. NorthAlabama says:

    god only knows i have been on the receiving end of about as much “christian love” as i care to receive in this lifetime.

  19. karmanot says:

    Who can seriously give a flying F*** about this baby, ultra conservative paramilitary propaganda organization?

  20. Thom Watson says:

    That is a false dichotomy.

    What I would rather, of course, is that the BSA stop discriminating against gay people, stop implicitly telling young gay boys that they will turn into something vile when they grow up, and stop implicitly telling children of gay parents that their parents are suspected pedophiles too risky to allow near them or their friends during scouting activities. I would rather that they live up to their stated ideals and stop being one of the last bastions of acceptable and lauded anti-gay bigotry in our country. I would rather that local governments didn’t give them free rent and tax breaks and that corporations didn’t give them large amounts of money as long as they discriminate. And I would rather that they stop their silly discrimination against atheists, as well.

    I don’t prefer the new policy over the old or the old policy over the new. They’re both vile. They’re both dangerous to vulnerable young people in the process of developing their self-image and self-respect, albeit perhaps in slightly different ways.

  21. Bill_Perdue says:

    That an absurd question, as absurd as me telling you that “you support the ban on gay scout leaders?”

    Kindly refrain from pretending that incrementalism is a valid thing to ask for or justify. It’s not. Skeptical Cicada is right.

  22. AdmNaismith says:

    I hope the LDS breaks away from the BSA now. How about this: Instead of good people breaking away to form their own inclusive scouts-like organization, why doesn’t the LDS break away and form the Bigot Scouts of America?

    I know the LDS is a HUGE funding source for the scouts right now, but you have to ask yourself why they get hit by lightening every year at the Jamboree.

    You can only take this for the step forward that it objectively is. Yes, the ban on adults must go, but if the corp sponsors that withheld money to get them this far keeps up the pressure, BSA will be all inclusive within 5 yrs (esp as state after state allows marriage equality).

  23. Stev84 says:

    The real number is somewhere around 5%. Especially if you figure in bisexual people. The 10% figure comes from the Kinsey report which suffers from severe selection bias.

  24. Stev84 says:

    And why can’t lesbians be in charge of boy scout troops?

  25. JayRandal says:

    Giving kudos to Boy Scouts organization for allowance of boys/teens being Gay really weird in my opinion. Accepting something as OK that has always been there is ridiculous. I was a Boy Scout born
    Gay. Some of my friends in Scouts were Gay. Nobody talked about it back then. Only difference between then and now.

  26. JayRandal says:

    I would like to add some Gay males promiscuity, especially in San Francisco,
    reinforces notion of GOPers that Gays are perverts. This is WHY I never defend acts of public nudity nor defend other in your face behavior. The more Gays and Lesbians allowed to marry the more acceptability for society.

  27. JayRandal says:

    If you buy into the notion that only 3% of population are Gay, then homosexuality becomes just a very tiny minority of people. In turn our government does nothing to
    protect nor defend tiny minority groups of people. GOP foisting notion that Gays are
    just perverts who prey upon children. Actually pedophiles are sexually repressed
    heterosexuals. Many of them GOPers.

  28. woodroad34 says:

    Well, one’s taste does mature as one’s knees go to hell.

  29. Randy says:

    The matter is closed until the Council, of which there is 1500 members, decides to revisit.

  30. Randy says:

    So you would have preferred they keep the old policy? We should have rejected this policy and kept the old one which would still kick out gay kids out of the BSA? I’d love to know how keeping the old is better for the gay kids than the new one.

  31. Randy says:

    So you would rather they kept the old policy I take it?

  32. jayjonson says:

    I wouldn’t give the Mormons much credit. They no doubt insisted on keeping the ban on adults.

  33. FLL says:

    I was not criticizing the Boy Scouts; I was suggesting that they would be much better off to seek their funding other than from the three religious denominations I mentioned in my comment above. Although I am not “shouting insults” at the Boy Scouts, I would be delighted to insult those three religious denominations. “Casting aspersions?” Casting aspersions?! Are you seriously suggesting that people show respect toward three denominations with a proven track record for hate propaganda? Any organization would do well to steer clear of these three denominations, and they would be the better for it.

  34. Thom Watson says:

    The idea of changing an organization from the inside is not an unworthy goal in the abstract. But just how are we supposed to do that given that their policy, even their revised policy, specifically and unequivocally bars us from being a part of it? There are organizations that serve kids that don’t discriminate against LGBT kids or adults, that welcome our support and involvement; given that I have limited resources, those other organizations are where I think my time and money are better used, and where they’re actually valued.

  35. Thom Watson says:

    Exactly what “honey” was it that moved them even to this position? You think they caved on their homophobia because people were asking them nicely to do so? I strongly suspect that more than anything else it was the “vinegar” (though probably a “carrot” and “stick” metaphor is more apt) of corporate America no longer being willing to fund the organization’s entrenched anti-gay discrimination, which is at odds with so many of these corporations’ own policies. I just hope that businesses won’t be taken in by this half-measure, and will continue to withhold dollars until the BSA stops this discrimination altogether.

  36. Thom Watson says:

    It doesn’t stop tossing out scouts who happen to be gay; it just delays when that separation occurs. The underlying message is the same as it always was: if you’re gay, there’s something wrong with you. The one change to that old message is that we’ll tolerate you for now, but if you don’t change your sexual orientation by the time you’re 18, you’re no longer scouting material, and in fact we will consider you a threat to younger scouts. To me, quite seriously — even having taken a few more hours to “breathe” and think about it after having spent many hours over many years thinking about it; but thanks ever so much for the condescension — I still consider this worse than the old policy in many ways.

  37. el_polacko says:

    the scouts get their funding where they can get it and if it’s largely from churches it’s because they are the ones who have stepped up. rather than blaming and casting aspersions maybe we should be supporting the scouts ourselves. we’d be much more likely to see the changes that we want in the organization by being a part of it rather than by standing on the sidelines and shouting insults.

  38. el_polacko says:

    good grief, man ! sit down and breathe into a paper bag for a few minutes. sometimes change is incremental. this is a deeply ‘conservative’ organization that, despite the supreme court telling them that they didn’t have to, has by a majority vote changed their policy and will stop tossing out kids who happen to be gay. it’s a big deal.

  39. el_polacko says:

    less than a year ago they said they would not reconsider their anti-gay policy at all. today, they have changed that policy. not everything happens overnight.

  40. el_polacko says:

    well…just a suggestion… you might wanna stop referring to your life as a ‘lifestyle’ if you expect to be taken seriously. as for the numbers, we’ll never be able to completely and accurately estimate the percentage of citizens who happen to be gay (much less bi) based on self-reporting…but does the number really matter ? even at 3% we’re still talking about millions of americans who have as much right as any group to have their concerns met by our government.

  41. el_polacko says:

    granted, accepting gay kids until they grow up to be gay adults is kinda nuts but this was, nevertheless, a huge step for the boy scouts…and the vote was by a clear majority…so maybe we should be thanking them for making this change instead of continuing to demonize them. when will we learn that honey works better than vinegar ?

  42. frizbeesf says:

    Everybody please calm down. This is first step, an imperfect, legally problematic and contextually offensive first step, yes. But a step FORWARD none the less. Because of the decision made today the policy on banning gay adult Scouters will very likely collapse under the weight of its own stupidity in next few years. I got text messages from a number of people in the room during the vote, and the fact that it passed with 61% is telling where attitudes of the BSA Membership is heading. I know we all want a full victory rather than a partial one here, but the BSA was at a true crossroads yesterday, and despite hiking at a slow pace, they overwhelmingly chose the path that goes forward. No small thing, that.

  43. Bill_Perdue says:

    This was a ‘victory’ to the same extent that the Voting Rights and Civil Rights Act ended racism and the Hate Crimes Act ended hate crimes.

    Your rose colored glasses are fogged over. Your projection of events is highly unlikely. What’s just as likely is that the mormonians, baptists and the baby rapers will start up their own groups if the BSA takes back it’s position that scouts become gay predators at age 18.

    How awful. A priest in every tent. What a pain in the ass for catholic scouts.

  44. Still, I do want to say in my best Steve Douchey voice: “This is gonna be HUGE!”

  45. JayRandal says:

    Something bothering me lately the notion that only about 3% of US population are Gay. Actually studies of sexuality claim about 10% of population Gay but some of them staying closeted.
    Another 10% of population are bisexual but not wanting to admit it. Another 10% have had at
    least one same sex encounter but consider themselves as straight. Anyway the 3% notion is
    nonsense and utilized as means to claim Gays are tiny minority of perverts. Being Gay myself I will not tolerate bigoted people condemning my lifestyle. They can go jump off a bridge.

  46. BeccaM says:

    Funny how the same accusations are never made against the heterosexual mothers who sometimes chaperone these boys’ camping trips, as was the case for my brothers when they were in the Scouts.

  47. JayRandal says:

    I was a Boy Scout once upon a time. Was even a troop leader. My father was a Eagle Scout, while I only made it to Star with 5 merit badges before dropping out. Boy Scouts organization today kind of
    out of touch with reality. If I had known at the time that Mormons had control over Boy Scouts I would
    not have joined Boy Scouts since I have always disliked trashy Mormons. At age I was in Scouts I did
    not consider myself as Gay then simply because back then nobody talked about it nor admitted it.

  48. BeccaM says:

    Or, “We’re keeping him out because he’s gay and Joey says Davey has been looking at him funny and touched him on the arm once.”

  49. Randy says:

    Who’s fawning? Who’s cowering? As I said below, it’s not perfect. But yes, as a former scout, the Handbook covers all aspects of scouting, and it will most definately define the membership rules, and it will have to say that you can be a scout regardless of sexual orientation.

    In any case, the reality is that now gay kids can be open and honest and still be scout. How can that be bad?

  50. Skeptical Cicada says:

    You seem to be confusing a grudging nondiscrimination policy with acceptance. The local BSA run by the neighborhood Baptist church isn’t going to be any more accepting tomorrow than it was yesterday.

  51. Sweetie says:

    Not really. They will know what the policy is for adults and what it means.

  52. Skeptical Cicada says:

    I think you need to drop the fawning, cowering attitude toward bigots.
    I seriously doubt there will be
    any peep of anything about this in any scouting publication or any mention of it ever in any troop.
    Meanwhile, you can enjoy BSA teaching all kids that you’re, by definition, a sexual predator and child molester.

  53. Skeptical Cicada says:

    Wow. You need to grow up a little less cowering before bigotry. Labeling all gay men as automatic sexual predators and child molesters most certainly is discrimination against every last one of us.

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  55. nicho says:

    So basically trading shorts and colored neckerchiefs for gold lamé gowns and pointy hats.

  56. MyrddinWilt says:

    They have a Kinbaku badge?

  57. MyrddinWilt says:

    So was the founder. Only in those days…

  58. Thom Watson says:

    Well, they might have young kids who want to be scouts, and they’d like to volunteer as leaders of their kids’ pack or troop. But this policy won’t let them; it essentially tells the kids of gay parents that their own parents are too dangerous to let them be around while they’re engaged in scouting activities. It’s a subversive anti-gay policy masquerading as pro-gay progress.

  59. Thom Watson says:

    There is no other way to interpret the new policy than as evidence that the Boy Scouts of America conflates adult homosexuality with child molestation. A policy that essentially says that gay adults cannot be trusted around children sends a harmful bullying message to gay kids that they themselves are worthless, sinful and sick, and that they are going to turn into child molesters. It may very well lead to troops bullying kids into harmful ex-gay therapy in order to try to turn them straight, since only straight adults are valued and worthy.

    Worse, it co-opts these very gay kids themselves, through their involvement with the program and its new policy, into legitimizing the horrible message that gay adults are evil, dangerous predators. What kind of self-respect is that likely to build among gay teens and pre-teens?

    Finally, the new policy also essentially sends a message to kids who have gay parents that their own parents are sick, immoral, perverted and untrustworthy if not in fact pedophiles; their own parents are deemed by the Boy Scouts to be too dangerous to be allowed to be near them when they are engaged in scouting activities. This is an evil message to send to kids about their own parents.

    The new policy is anti-gay, it’s anti-family and it’s inhumane.

  60. karmanot says:

    You seriously think being a gay BS in a homophobic town is going to work. OMG—-beyond naivety.

  61. karmanot says:

    So ironic that the grandson of the founder is gay.

  62. MyrddinWilt says:

    The folk behind the policy mostly lived in the type of communities where even now most people don’t come out until they can move the hell away and stay away. So they likely don’t even know that they have gay scouts in their own troops.

  63. MyrddinWilt says:

    Its not over, but it is a big step forward.

    The LDS does seem to be changing its position. They have gone from organizing funding for prop H8 to being conspicuously silent.

    Catholic church takes centuries to change doctrine. They still haven’t come to terms with the 1920s and contraception. But all it takes in the LDS is for an apostle to have a revelation and they can turn on a dime. though they prefer much larger units of currency like $100s.

  64. Mike_in_the_Tundra says:

    I think you’re missing the message that is being sent to gay scouts. A scout can easily understand this message – “Gay boy, you’re going to grow up to be a pervert that no one can trust.”

  65. nicho says:

    If you’re 18 and your town won’t accept you, it’s time to get out of town. People have been doing it for a long time.

  66. FunMe says:

    John, I’ve been loving your passion lately. You’ve always had it, but now more than ever. :-)

  67. Randy says:

    Because it might be the only place in town that accepts an openly gay kid, that’s why. And if that’s all it is, then that’s a good thing.

  68. d3clark says:

    Unfortunately, the language chosen concerning admission (and, presumably, retention) of gay scouts by the BSA is this: “. . . no youth may be denied membership ‘on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone’.” You know that the 30% who aren’t welcoming gay scouts will see that as a signal to look for other reasons to disqualify scouts. “We’re not keeping him out because he’s gay, we’re keeping him out cause he’s gay and a bed wetter. You see, that’s consistent with BSA policy.”

  69. I would assume that the vast majority of scouts DON’T continue on with it past the age of 18. They graduate, go to college and get on with their lives. The practical effect of this will be that gay adults with kids of scouting age will not be able to serve as volunteers, but the majority of parents with kids participating in the scouts don’t volunteer anyway. This is bigotry, but it’s not against “all gays” but against “gays who will be in a position of authority over my kids during sleepovers in the woods,” and while I disagree, I can understand why that might be a bridge too far for religious types who have never interacted with gays in any capacity and are literally afraid of them. The BENEFIT of the new policy is that now, a new generation of scouts will have gay scouting friends as they grow up and when they become adults, they will be less homophobic than their parents. And if a few hundred thousand Mormons and Southern Baptists grow up a little less homophobic, we all win.

  70. FLL says:

    The Boy Scouts still have an institutional problem because such a large percentage of their troops are sponsored by the Mormon, Catholic and Baptist churches, three denominations that can be considered “the worst of the worst” concerning hate propaganda. Until the Boy Scouts solve that institutional problem, they’ll have a hard time fitting into the 21st century.

  71. David Robertson says:

    People are demanding the change and the BSA has listened. They say they will not revisit the matter and consider it closed.

  72. David Robertson says:

    The timeline for rejection and embarrassment has gone from 10-13 years old to 18. That’s an improvement for the fact youth are more vulnerable at young ages, but they’re still going to be rejected eventually, and not truly supported ever.

  73. karmanot says:


  74. karmanot says:

    Well, incremental progress is the meme of the day. I would basically ask, why in the hell would anybody 18yrs old want to be a scout.

  75. David Robertson says:

    The Mormons said they would leave if they allowed gay/bi persons over 18. This is as far as they will go. I don’t see further compromise until/unless there’s litigation. I also am wondering what the BSA will do regarding potential anti-gay bullying regarding there’s no gay leaders, role models, basically an explicit ban against discussing “sexual issues”.

  76. karmanot says:

    It’s worth it just to learn all those rope and knot tricks.

  77. Randy says:

    Another point to make: Here in the coastal areas, we don’t see being gay as a big issue and wonder why the rest of the country can’t either. But in the heart of Kansas, or Georgia, or Utah, young kids, and especially gay kids, don’t get any positive messages about being gay AT ALL. It’s just a fact that we are all spawn of Satan. So for the BSA, which is located even in the deepest conservative and religious sections of the country, to say that being a gay kid is okay, is a HUGE deal. It’s enormous. The Scouting Handbook will be changed to reflect this that being gay is no reason to discriminate against him. That’s a powerful message for the next generation who won’t otherwise hear it.

    Just to see that in print could make a big difference in a gay kid’s life. Even if your troop doens’t have any openly gay kids, inevitably they will hear that some other troop has one. And when they get together for jamborees or whatever, they will meet gay kids.

    This will smash the stereostypes that gays are evil and anti-god. If their parents and ministers are wrong about this one really basic issue, then what else are they wrong about? it will break a huge dam of silence.

    In the next few years, expect to hear stories of the gay kid who was rejected by his parents and his minister and his family, and the only place where he found acceptance was his Scout troop. It that happens just once, this whole thing is worth it.

    So John, please drop the blase attitude. It works for us who are open and accepted and loved and can function well as openly gay people. But for a huge number of people growing up, this might be the only lifeline they have. Let’s celebrate it.

  78. Randy says:

    I think this is good overall. It’s not perfect, and yes, I wish they lifted the whole ban. But that just isn’t going to happen, so half a cup of justice is better than no cup of justice.

    Within a short period of time, people will realize the absurdity of kicking out a perfectly good scout at 18 just because he’s gay. That itself will cause a lot of trauma, and introspection. Eventually people will demand that be changed as well. Let’s hope that happens soon.

  79. woodroad34 says:

    Well, I guess if gays can’t be leaders it’s off to the Priesthood for us. ;-(

  80. nicho says:

    Silly — you can’t make gay youngsters feel ashamed of themselves if you have appropriate adult role models for them.

    Bottom line: honest and safe gay candidates will be open about their sexuality, and will be excluded. The pedophiles — whether homosexual or “omnivores” — will lie and sneak in.

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