Boy Scouts of America Says Discussing End to Ban on Gay Members
DALLAS (Reuters) – Boy Scouts of America is discussing ending a longstanding ban on gay members and whether to allow local organizations to decide their own policy, a spokesman said on Monday.
Lifting the ban would mark a dramatic reversal for the 103-year-old organization, which only last summer reaffirmed its policy amid heavy criticism from gay rights groups and some parents of scouts.
“The BSA is discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation,” spokesman Deron Smith said in an email to Reuters.
“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 spokesman said.
The organization, which had more than 2.6 million youth members and more than 1 million adult members at the end of 2012, “would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents,” Smith said.
That would effectively put an end to Catholic-sponsored scout troops, which account for 10 percent of all troops. Mormon-sponsored groups account for more than a third of all troops, and religious organizations sponsor two-thirds of all troops, according to this article.
The Girl Scouts are already in the Catholic dock over charges (or an “urban legend,” some say) that their cookies support contraception and abortion programs. (Catholics make up a quarter of the nation’s 3 million Girl Scouts.)
Is this the end of Catholic scouting? Or are there alternatives?