The Boy Scouts of America may finally be ending its decades-long discriminatory rule of excluding gays from joining the group, NBC News reported Monday. The youth organization, which just seven months ago affirmed its policy banning Scouts and troop leaders because of their sexual orientation, has come under much criticism recently.
Deron Smith, a spokesman for the BSA, said the proposal under consideration “would allow the religious, civic or educational organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting to determine how to address this issue.
“The Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members or parents. Under this proposed policy, the BSA would not require any chartered organization to act in ways inconsistent with that organization’s mission, principles or religious beliefs.”
A Scouting official told NBC News that the change was being considered because of pressure by local chapters. “We’re a grass-roots organization. This is a response to what’s happening at the local level,” the official said.
However, the BSA’s decision to alter its policy may have to do more—like everything in this country, it seems—with financial considerations. Several organizations have recently stopped funding the Boy Scouts because of its discrimination.
About 50 local United Way groups and several corporations and charities have concluded that the ban violates their non-discrimination requirements and have ceased providing financial aid to the Boy Scouts. An official of The Human Rights Campaign, an advocate for gay rights, said HRC planned to downgrade its non-discrimination ratings for corporations that continue to give the BSA financial support.
“It’s an extremely complex issue,” said one Boy Scouts of America official, who explained that other organizations have threatened to withdraw their financial support if the BSA drops the ban.
While the national scouting organization sets broad policies, more than 290 local councils nationwide govern the day-to-day conduct of the more than 116,000 local organizations. Individual scouting troops are sponsored by religious and civic organizations that represent a diversity of views on the issue of allowing gay scouts and leaders.
Flickr/Daniel M. Reck