One of the oldest, largest and most Christian youth organizations in the United States will bow to the public’s demand for an end to its long-standing ban on openly gay youth participants if its voting members permit it next month.
If the 1,400-person National Council votes in favor, “no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone,” the organization’s spokesman told Reuters. The ban on openly gay adult members would remain.
The compromise comes as gay-rights groups have demanded a complete lifting of the ban amid political support from both president Barack Obama and former Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney. Corporate sponsors, including drugs giant Merck, have suspended funding for the BSA, citing its discrimination against gay people.
At the same time some religious and conservative groups have pressed for the ban to remain. The organisation estimates that easing the ban on gay adults could cost the organization 100,000 to 350,000 members. The BSA was founded in 1910 and has 2.7m youth members and over 1m adult volunteers. The Supreme Court upheld its right to ban gay members in 2000.