Report: End of Boy Scouts Ban on Gay Scouts and Scout Leaders Imminent
January 28th, 2013
This is a really, really big deal. NBC’s Pete Williams broke the story this morning that the t Boy Scouts of America is “actively considering” and end to its ban on gay scouts and scout leaders:
If 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 discission is reportedly in its “final stages.” It’s important to note that the change in policy will allow individual boy scout troops to decide for themselves whether they will accept gay scout members or leaders. Because many LGBT-affirming churches and organizations sponsor troops, the Scouts’ ban on gay members and leaders have placed those organizations’ affirmative beliefs and policies in an untenable conflict with the BSA. Meanwhile, the Boy Scouts have been the de-facto youth group the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, where every Mormon boy is automatically enrolled and the vast majority are active members. By pushing the policy decision to a local level, the BSA appears to be aiming for a compromise which would allow all of the sponsoring organizations to remain affiliated with Scouting.
The change could be finalized next week when the board holds its annual meeting. Welcome to the twenty-first century, scouts!
It was just last July when it was announced that a double super-secret panel at BSA had recommended that the ban on gay scout members and leaders remain in place. That announcement came under outgoing BSA president, Rex Tillerson, who is also the CEO of ExxonMobil, a company with the lowest possible rating on LGBT equality from the Human Rights Campaign. The new BSA president, Wayne Perry, who retired from McCaw Cellular which became a part of AT&T — which, by the way, has a perfect score from HRC. Other BSA board members, namely James Turley, global chairman and CEO of tax firm Ernst & Young, and AT&T’s chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson, also voiced their opposition to the ban.
Update: The New York Times has more on the pending policy change:
“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,” a spokesman for the Boy Scouts of America, Deron Smith, said in a statement.
Mr. Smith added: “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.” He said that members and parents would be able to choose a local unit that best meets the needs of their families