This just in

Boy Scouts of America considers ending ban on gay members

Boy Scouts of America considers ending ban on gay members

News_Boy Scouts dinner_April 2011_Color Guard
The Boy Scouts of America have won several legal battles to keep a ban against gay members but are now reconsidering the exclusionary policy.  Photo by John R. Lewis

It was just seven months ago when Irving-based Boy Scouts of America made headlines for reaffirming a policy excluding gay members. Now, there's talk that the nationwide ban is on its way out.

After NBC reported the change of course on Monday, the Boy Scouts released a statement confirming that the organization "is discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation." 

As it stands now, the policy would not mean automatic acceptance for all sexual orientations. It would simply lift the ban. 

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. 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, but that the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with their organization’s mission, principles or religious beliefs. BSA members and parents would be able to choose a local unit which best meets the needs of their families.

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. 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 national policy against homosexual members disappears, the burden would fall upon local chapters to decide which members to accept.

The BSA's announcement comes fresh on the heels of President Barack Obama's inaugural address, where he became the first president to mention gay rights in an inauguration speech