Boy Scouts ‘Actively Considering’ End to Ban on Gay Members, Leaders

The Boy Scouts are "actively considering" an end to their ban on gay members and leaders, NBC News reports:

BsaIf adopted by the organization’s board of directors, it would represent a profound change on an issue that has been highly controversial — one that even went to the US Supreme Court. The new policy, now under discussion, would eliminate the ban from the national organization’s rules, leaving local sponsoring organizations free to decide for themselves whether to admit gay scouts.

“The chartered organizations that oversee and deliver scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with their organization’s mission, principles or religious beliefs,” according to Deron Smith, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts’ national organization.

Individual sponsors and parents “would be able to choose a local unit which best meets the needs of their families,” Smith said.

The discussion of a potential change in policy is nearing its final stages, according to outside scouting supporters.

The changes could be announced as early as next week, according to NBC News, following their national board meeting.

The Boy Scouts official statement from BSA spokesperson Deron Smith:

For more than 100 years, Scouting's focus has been on working together to deliver the nation's foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training. Scouting has always been in an ongoing dialogue with the Scouting family to determine what is in the best interest of the organization and the young people we serve.

Currently, the BSA is discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation. This would mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation, and the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with each organization's mission, principles, or religious beliefs. BSA members and parents would be able to choose a local unit that best meets the needs of their families.

The policy change under discussion would allow the religious, civic, or educational organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting to determine how to address this issue. The Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents. Under this proposed policy, the BSA would not require any chartered organization to act in ways inconsistent with that organization's mission, principles, or religious beliefs.

Said GLAAD President Herndon Graddick in response to the announcement: "The Boy Scouts of America have heard from scouts, corporations and millions of Americans that discriminating against gay scouts and scout leaders is wrong. Scouting is a valuable institution and this change will only strengthen its core principles of fairness and respect."

Added Zach Wahls, Eagle Scout and founder of Scouts for Equality: "This would be an incredible step forward in the right direction. We look forward to working with BSA Councils and chartering organizations across the country to end the exclusion of our gay brothers in Scouting, as well as the gay and lesbian leaders who serve the organizations so well."

Posted January 28, 2013 at 1:07pm ETC by Andy Towle
in Boy Scouts, News