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Boy Scouts of America may consider end to ban on gay members

Eagle Scout Zach Wahls, 20, of Iowa City, Iowa, talks to reporters outside the Boy Scouts of America's Annual Meeting in Orlando in this file photo taken May 30, 2012. Wahls, the founder of a group opposing the Boy Scouts anti-gay policy, said Monday that the scouts decision to review their longstanding ban on gay members was a step in the right direction.

Eagle Scout Zach Wahls, 20, of Iowa City, Iowa, talks to reporters outside the Boy Scouts of America's Annual Meeting in Orlando in this file photo taken May 30, 2012. Wahls, the founder of a group opposing the Boy Scouts anti-gay policy, said Monday that the scouts decision to review their longstanding ban on gay members was a step in the right direction.

DALLAS — 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.

The Boy Scouts won a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing the organization to ban gays in 2000, but has come under increasing public pressure in recent years from activists including Zach Wahls, an Eagle scout with two lesbian mothers, and Jennifer Tyrrell, a lesbian mother from Ohio who was ousted as a Scout den leader and treasurer.

"This is absolutely a step in the right direction," Wahls said on Monday, adding that if the national board approves the change, he would turn to persuading local councils to enact nondiscrimination policies.

Wahls is the founder of Scouts for Equality, which collected more than 1.2 million signatures opposing the anti-gay policy. His group's membership includes 3,151 other Eagle scouts.

"I think the Boy Scouts is obviously a positive move, but they've been discussing this for a while," said Shane Windmeyer, executive director of Campus Pride, a national group supporting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Comments

Cartman 1 year, 6 months ago

Let me be the first to not comment on this story.

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Roundman 1 year, 6 months ago

They are everywhere!!!! They are everywhere!!!! I would have never in my 65 years believed that as an old Eagle, "they" have so many gay members!! i am not one of them anymore -- I left it to them a good while back--- Leadership really has no gonads -- We are teaching by daily showing these young men -- they see what's going on -- our young men are not stupid -- but they are being led in the wrong direction! The gays will out-number the straights in 20 years --- if Jesus does not come!!!!!

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FryarTuk 1 year, 6 months ago

An Eagle Scout with over 50 years in the Scouting movement, I am glad to see it change. It's time to move on.

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whattheheck 1 year, 6 months ago

If this happens, will the BSA National be able to do away with most of its $4 million in legal fees?

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