Boy Scouts To Reconsider Ban on Gay Members, Leaders Next Week

The Boy Scouts of America could reverse its decades-old ban on allowing homosexual members and leaders as early as next week, leaving the decision to local troops.

Just seven months after the Boy Scouts of America reaffirmed its decades-old ban on admitting gay members and leaders, the organization said it could reverse that policy as early as next week.

Scout officials announced on Monday that the organization is considering amending its policy against homosexual participation in favor of allowing local troops to decide on their own, NBC News reports.

If the policy change is approved at next week's national executive board meeting the ban would be eliminated from the scout's rules.

"The chartered organizations that oversee and deliver scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with their organization’s mission, principles or religious beliefs,” Deron Smith, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts’ national organization told NBC News on Monday.

Tiverton scout leader and Town Councilor William P. Gerlach said the news was positive, but was discouraged that the Boy Scouts chose to sidestep such a divisive and important social issue.

"I think this is a step in the right direction and it's a positive development, but I think the national organization can do more," said Gerlach. "They have basically absolved themselves of the responsibility and pushed the decision on whether or not to admit gay and lesbian scouts and leaders onto the local organizations that sponsor the local units."

As far as Tiverton's scout organizations go, homosexuality is - and has been - a non-issue. Gerlach said his cub scouts troop has never had an issue with homosexuality, but added that he discussed the national Boy Scouts' organization ban with other local scout leaders and all agreed that sexuality was irrelevant to participation. 

"Our local unit remains committed to an inclusive program on all levels," said Gerlach.

While the New York times reported that scout officials offered no timeline on making the formal decision, most other media outlets are anticipating a decision after discussion on the issue at next week's national executive board meeting.

Tiverton-Little Compton Patch readers weighed in on Facebook after the Boy Scouts' announcement on Monday.

Christine Cutillo Mello: I think it would be in their best interest if they want to avoid discrimination lawsuits. They've already destroyed their good name, perhaps they can win back some brownie points by changing this ridiculous policy.


Charlotte McCarthy: I guess my feeling is that sexuality does not need to be part of everything we do. Let these kids be... KIDS, let them worry about knot tying and fort building, worry about liking boys or girls some other time, like college.
Stop pressuring kids to fit themselves into some straight/gay box when it's just not necessary, or appropriate.
Instead of the boy scouts worrying about who is gay or straight, just let them focus on wood crafts and hiking for a while...

Activists on both sides of the issue spoke out on Monday on the unintended consequences of leaving the decision on whether or not to allow gays up to individual scouting troops. The New York Times reported that supporters of the ban feared the Boy Scouts' softened approach could undermine the organization's legacy of producing great, moral leaders. Equality activists worried the piecemeal approach would encourage discrimination in some troops.

The battle to end the ban on gay members and leaders in the Boy Scouts began decades ago, but recently regained momentum as a result of public and private backlash when the scouts reaffirmed their policy position in 2012. That same policy endured a Supreme Court trial in 2000.

What's your opinion on allowing gay members and leaders in the Boy Scouts? Do you think Boy Scouts' headquarters should issue a more definitive policy change allowing homosexuals? What will be the repercussions of allowing individual units to ban or allow gays? Tell us in the comments below.

Finnigan Black January 29, 2013 at 12:15 PM
Ooh ooh ooh!
Finnigan Black January 29, 2013 at 12:15 PM
That was my song.
charles January 29, 2013 at 12:21 PM
Guess they want another pennstate episode if they do this
tara kane January 29, 2013 at 12:26 PM
Scouting and the Boy Scouts is a fun and great learning organization. But if you are not Christian then be quiet as the majority of troops are not non-denomination, but Christian and being miral means being Christian.
Lee Black January 29, 2013 at 12:30 PM
Why do we let less than 5% of the population tell us what to do.
Robin Scott January 29, 2013 at 12:33 PM
Gays should be allowed to do whatever they want. We dont tell straight people what they can and cannot do, so why tell us?
Edward Myers January 29, 2013 at 12:35 PM
Why not? They already infiltrated the Military...
Adrian McClain January 29, 2013 at 12:40 PM
I believe they should let gays do boy scouts only because if they don't would be a discrimination. They are still humans like we are. Love people but hate the sin.
shay January 29, 2013 at 12:40 PM
The boy scouts have hired" so-called" straight men forever only to find out that some of these men are pedifiles. Then allow these same men to leave without any legal action being taken. Its not a gay/straight issue, its an issue of morality. Just bc a man is gay doesn't mean he will hurt or touch a boy. Maybe the boy scouts have realized their errors or maybe they want to take some of the heat off them for their past lies and cover ups.
Robin Scott January 29, 2013 at 12:50 PM
@edward, I'm going into the US Navy. I am a lesbian. You shouldn't say we "infiltrated" anything. At least myself and a few other people like me are trying to do something for America.
Mike January 29, 2013 at 03:52 PM
An article like this sheds light on the ignorance still around us.
Renee Cwiek January 29, 2013 at 06:17 PM
All I can do is sit and shake my head as I read some of these comments.
Lee Black January 29, 2013 at 08:56 PM
Gay's are made not born. You have to get them whin there young
Joe Sousa. January 29, 2013 at 09:30 PM
Since its founding in 1910 as part of the international Scout Movement, more than 110 million Americans have been members of the BSA. I would think some of them were gay.
Robert E January 29, 2013 at 10:43 PM
Tara I am a Wiccan otherwise known as a witch and was the Scoutmaster of a troop sponsered by a Catholic Church. Being a Christian was never a requirement of membership the BSA's only requirement was you had to beleave in a higher power it did not matter what or who that higher power was.
Naome Lixes January 29, 2013 at 11:14 PM
Nothing says, "I hate my parents" like "I am a Wiccan otherwise known as a witch". There are two things I wouldn't voluntarily let you handle, Robert - live ammo and my kids. I do believe you're not coming clean, Skippy. http://atheism.about.com/b/2006/05/15/boy-scouts-wiccans-not-welcome-liars-just-fine.htm
lovellsarmy January 29, 2013 at 11:52 PM
Well I look at it this way we have priest all over the states that are making sexual moves on our children in church. This is just giving other leaders more of a chance to to the same in the great outdoors where it will be easy for them to lead the children away from their group without anyone nowing. I think this is a bad idea and. I hope an pray that it doesn't come down to this but I think this will happen over time.
Robert E January 30, 2013 at 12:55 AM
Naome Wiccans are not excluded by the BSA next time try to get your info from BSA headquarters in Texas. I realize you are obsesed with me but wicca is a valid religion no need to try to insult my religion I knew you were a lot of things but I didn't think you were a bigot now we know. By the way they teach shooting at scout camp and there is a rifle and shotgun shooting merit badge. P.S I loved my parents
Robert E January 30, 2013 at 12:59 AM
The BSA has a strict policy no child is to be alone with an adult leader two leaders have to be present at all times.
Renee Cwiek January 30, 2013 at 11:27 AM
oh please. Do you honestly think all gay people are trying to do something awful to children? It takes a sick person to do something like that. I seriously can't understand how people get this crap into their heads. Most camps do have the policy that Robert Just mentioned. My girls went to girl scout camp and each camper is to always have another camper with them, and they are never alone with a leader. Most groups that deal with children in general have these rules in place now.


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