By Anna Peirano
Boy Scouts of America has been embroiled in controversy over the last few years as their policy banning gay members has become the center of a national debate. However, Reuters is reporting that an email from BSA spokesman Deron Smith indicates that the organization may be considering a change.
“The BSA is discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation,” Smith wrote in an email to Reuters. “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.”
Smith added that the youth development organization has been in contact with families to determine its best interests, according to FoxNews.com. “BSA members and parents would be able to choose a local unit which best meets the needs of their families,” he said.
In April of 2012, at the BSA annual meeting, an individual scout leader presented a resolution to the organization that “would allow individual units to accept gays as adult leaders.” Despite the alternative approach, an 11 person committee convened by the BSA reached a unanimous consensus to retain the current policy in place.
BSA National Executive Board members like James Turley, CEO of Ernst & Young, and Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T, have publicly opposed the policy. After last year’s official decision, they both stated their intention “to work from within the BSA Board to actively encourage dialogue and sustainable progress” toward changing the policy.
In 2000, the Supreme Court ruled in Boy Scouts of America v. Dale that all private organizations, including the Scouts, have the right to set membership standards.
In 2004, the BSA adopted a new policy that included a statement about “Youth Leadership.” It remained on their website until it was removed in 2010. The policy stated:
Boy Scouts of America believes that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the obligations in the Scout Oath and Scout Law to be morally straight and clean in thought, word, and deed. The conduct of youth members must be in compliance with the Scout Oath and Law, and membership in Boy Scouts of America is contingent upon the willingness to accept Scouting’s values and beliefs. Most boys join Scouting when they are 10 or 11 years old. As they continue in the program, all Scouts are expected to take leadership positions. In the unlikely event that an older boy were to hold himself out as homosexual, he would not be able to continue in a youth leadership position.
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