Boy Scouts to consider reversing ban on gay membership

Boy Scout Troop 358 peforms while passing the presidential box during the Inaugural parade. The Boys Scouts of America announced that it is reconsidering excluding gays as leaders and youth members.
(Charlie Neibergall / Associated Press)

Seven months after reaffirming its longstanding ban on gays, the Boy Scouts of America signaled Monday that it might reverse that policy and allow local chartering groups to decide.

“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,” Scouts spokesman Deron Smith said in a statement. “The Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members or parents.”


Smith said the proposal will be discussed next when the Boy Scouts’ national board meets. It was only in July that the organization stood by the policy. But Smith said Monday there was no particular impetus for the proposed change.

Instead, he said, it is the result of “a longstanding dialogue within the Scouting family.”

Gay rights advocates who have long been critical of the ban welcomed the proposed change.

“The Boy Scouts of America have heard from scouts, corporations and millions of Americans that discriminating against gay scouts and scout leaders is wrong,” Herndon Graddick, president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, or GLAAD, said in a statement.


“Scouting is a valuable institution and this change will only strengthen its core principles of fairness and respect,” he said.



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