The Boy Scouts of America appears ready to end the long-standing ban on openly gay members. A spokesman for the organization said that they must still vote on ratifying a resolution ending the ban this May.
According to Deron Smith, the BSA’s spokesman, if the resolution is ratified then “no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.”
The decision to end the ban came after three months of research, surveys and discussion. Smith called it “among the most complex and challenging issues facing the BSA and society today.” The deliberations have been rather divisive especially given the number of religious organizations that sponsor the group.
Patrick Boyle, the writer of the 1994 book “Scout’s Honor”, said that “This is a historic change for the Boy Scouts. . .You have a more than hundred-year-old organization changing what it considered a fundamental belief just a decade ago. That says a lot about the Scouts and a lot about how far the gay rights movement has come in the United States.”
The BSA has been under fire for their refusal to allow gays to be Scouts and for lesbians and gays to serve as parental leaders.
The announcement also comes in the wake of a scandal involving the BSA covering up the crimes committed by a number of parental scout leaders. A number of cases where the BSA did not turn in child molesters made headlines late last year.
A decade ago, attempts were made to get the BSA to overturn their ban on gays. On some college campuses, they tried to get the BSA evicted from their long term leases; however, there was a great deal of resistance to that. In the last few years, the BSA has started to face financial pressure over their policy and they have had leases revoked in some cases.
The Family Equality Council had this to say “The proposed end to the ban on gay Scouts is a big step forward, but the Boy Scouts of America can and should do better. There are three million parents in our country who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) and many of them want to support their children by giving their time and energy to the Boy Scouts. Scouting has a long tradition of being a family activity and it should be open to all our families.”