(NEW YORK) — The Boy Scouts of America appear close to lifting its nationwide ban on gays in scouting, in order to allow local groups to decide.
In a statement, a Boy Scouts spokesman says the organization is now discussing the potential removal of the ban on gay members and scout leaders.
“For more than 100 years, Scouting’s focus has been on working together to deliver the nation’s foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training,” Boy Scouts of America spokesman Deron Smith said Monday. “Scouting has always been in an ongoing dialogue with the Scouting family to determine what is in the best interest of the organization and the young people we serve.
“Currently, the BSA is discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation. This would mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation, and the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with each organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs. BSA members and parents would be able to choose a local unit that best meets the needs of their families,” Smith said.
It’s not clear when a decision would be announced.
“The policy change under discussion would allow the religious, civic, or educational organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting to determine how to address this issue,” Smith continued. “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.”
If the ban is lifted, it would mark the end of a fight that’s lasted more than two decades and gone all the way to the Supreme Court. In 2000, the court upheld the right of the Boy Scouts, as as private organization, to exclude gays.
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