The Boy Scouts of America are reportedly actively considering dropping their national ban on gay scouts and gay scout leaders, MSNBC is reporting.
This would be a profoud change for the iconic American organziation, which has staunchly resisted budging on its anti-gay policy for decades.
The policy change will be deliberated by the national board of directors, which will discuss the topic at its meeting next week. If approved, the ban on gay members and leaders would be removed from the national organization, leaving it up to individual chapters on how to proceed.
“The chartered organizations that oversee and deliver scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with their organization’s mission, principles or religious beliefs,” according to Deron Smith, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts’ national organization.
As recently as last July, the national organization reaffirmed its ban on gay members and leaders, calling it at the time "the best policy for the organization." The rapid 180-degree turn in its stance strongly suggests the decades-old policy has crumbled rather quickly under the pressure of grassroots momentum.
"We're a grassroots organization. This is a response to what's happening at the local level," one official said.
Two corporate CEOs on BSA’s national board, Randall Stephenson of AT&T and James Turley of Ernst & Young, have also said they would work to end the ban. Both president Barack Obama and his challenger in the 2012 election, the Republican former governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney, have voiced support for ending the ban.
In September of last year, the families of Boy Scouts Pack 442, which is based in Cloverly, Maryland, just outside the nation's capital, announced it would adopt a non-discriminitory policy and admit gays for the first time. But earlier this month, the Boy Scouts council in charge of overseeing scout programs in the Washington, DC-area, pressured them to reverse that decision.
If the end of the ban on gay members and leaders does indeed go through next week, Pack 442 and so many others like it will be free to let whomever they want join their ranks. Do you agree with an end to the ban? Leave a comment.