The Boy Scouts of America, with national headquarters in Irving, is proposing an end to its longstanding ban on gay scouts. It would however maintain a ban on gay/lesbian adult scout leaders.
The proposal will be voted on May 20 at the Scouts national meeting in Irving.
At the last national board gathering in February, Scout leadership reportedly considered ending the policy or offering an option to local troops – they could maintain the ban if they chose, or allow gay participants.
Leaders nixed that idea, deciding to poll scouts and troops nationwide for their opinions in advance of offering some proposal for May.
At recent national meetings, many scouts and their family members, including some gay troop leaders, gathered outside the national headquarters urging an end to the gay ban. On a different day, hundreds of other scouts, many church-based, rallied to maintain the ban.
In the statement, the BSA said parents, adults in the Scouting community, and teens alike tend to agree that youth should not be denied the benefits of Scouting. It also said the proposed resolution reinforces that Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting.
Here's the statement from the Boy Scouts of America:
In February, the Boy Scouts of America embarked on the most comprehensive listening exercise in its history to consider the impact of potential changes to its membership standards policy on the organization and gather perspectives from inside and outside of the Scouting family. This review created an outpouring of feedback from the Scouting family and the American public, from both those who agree with the current policy and those who support a change. Scouting’s review confirmed that this issue remains among the most complex and challenging issues facing the BSA and society today. Even with the wide range of input, it is extremely difficult to accurately quantify the potential impact of maintaining or changing the current policy. While perspectives and opinions vary significantly, parents, adults in the Scouting community, and teens alike tend to agree that youth should not be denied the benefits of Scouting. For this reason, the Executive Committee, on behalf of the National Executive Board, wrote a resolution for consideration that would remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone and would maintain the current membership policy for all adult leaders of the Boy Scouts of America. The proposed resolution also reinforces that Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting. The voting members will take action on the resolution during the Boy Scouts of America’s National Annual Meeting next month. America needs Scouting, and our policies must be based on what is in the best interest of our nation’s children. Throughout this process, we work to stay focused on that which unites us—reaching and serving young people to help them grow into good, strong citizens. Our priority remains to continue accomplishing incredible things for young people and the communities we serve.