Boy Scouts propose lifting ban on openly gay Scouts, not leaders

posted at 2:42 pm on April 19, 2013 by Mary Katharine Ham

Also breaking today: This is a proposal that would go from the executive council to the Boy Scouts of America voting members in May, , and if approved, go into effect in January 2014:

The Boy Scouts of America would no longer deny membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation, but would maintain its ban on openly gay adult leaders under a proposal it is considering, the group said Friday…

“If approved, the resolution would mean that ‘no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.’ The BSA will maintain the current membership policy for all adults,” Boy Scouts public relations director Deron Smith said.

The Boys Scouts have been considering a change in the longstanding policy against allowing openly gay members. In February, the Boy Scouts’ national executive board postponed a vote on lifting its outright ban on openly gay Scouts and troop leaders and ordered a survey of its members on the issue.

The Boy Scouts have been mulling a version of this proposal for a while, but the parameters changed in response to a survey it commissioned of members:

Earlier, the BSA had indicated it might give local Scout units the option of admitting gays as both youth members and adult leaders, or continuing to exclude them

The BSA said Friday it changed course due in part to results of surveys sent out this year to members of the scouting community.

The survey, according to CNN, showed a generational split with older leaders preferring the exclusion policy and younger parents and teenagers favoring lifting the ban. More from ABC on the survey:

Gay-rights groups have demanded a complete lifting of the ban, while some churches and conservative groups want it maintained in its entirety, raising the likelihood that the new proposal will draw continued criticism from both sides.

Indeed, the BSA, in making its announcement, estimated that easing the ban on gay adults could cause widespread defections that cost the organization 100,000 to 350,000 members.

The review, said a BSA statement, “created an outpouring of feedback” from 200,000 respondents, some supporting the exclusion policy and others favoring a change.

“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,” the statement said.

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