Monday, January 28, 2013
The Boys Scouts of America is considering a dramatic change in its controversial policy of excluding gays as leaders and youth members.
"I don't know how that would impact local units or chartered organizations," said Mike Johnson, scout executive and CEO of the Boy Scouts' Quivira Council in Wichita. "Whatever the decision is, as a local council, we'll follow the national policy and at the end of the day, our focus is service to kids."
Under the change being considered, the different religious and civic groups that sponsor Scout units would be able to decide for themselves how to address the issue -- either maintaining an exclusion of gays or opening up their membership.
The announcement of the possible change came Monday after years of protests over the policy -- including petition campaigns that have prompted some corporations to suspend donations to the Boy Scouts.
Under the proposed change, said BSA spokesman Deron Smith, "The Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents."
The national board will discuss whether or not to change the policy at next week's meeting.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Boy Scouts of America Media Statement
Attributable to: Deron Smith, Director of Public Relations
“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, 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.
“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.”