The Boy Scouts of America are considering ending their ban on gay members and leaders, Pete Williams at NBC News reports.The youth organisation has maintained an across-the-board ban on gay members in spite of high-profile protests from gay Eagle Scouts and rising public pressure for years. The ban was even tried — and upheld — in a Supreme Court lawsuit.
According to the NBC report, the policy would eliminate the ban from the national organisation’s rules but would allow local sponsoring organisations to decide for themselves whether to allow gay scouts.
On the local level, different troops have different chartering organisations, many of which are churches and other religious organisations. Lifting the ban nationally would push the issue to the local level and still allow individual troops to ban gay members.
Deron Smith, a spokesman for the Scouts, told NBC that “the chartered organisations that oversee and deliver scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with their organisation’s mission, principles or religious beliefs.”
Two corporate CEOs who sit on the board of the BSA — Randall Stephenson of AT&T and James Turley of Ernst & Young — have worked to end the ban. Stephenson is next in line to become the national chairman of the Boy Scouts.
Most international affiliates of the Boy Scouts allow gay members. The Girl Scouts of America has had a full nondiscrimination policy for years.
The BSA has lost sponsorships — most recently from the Merck Foundation — due to their reticence on the issue.
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