Boy Scouts in US mull end to ban on gays
AFPWASHINGTON -- The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) said Monday it is rethinking its longstanding and controversial nationwide ban on gays and lesbians taking part in its activities.
January 30, 2013, 11:34 am TWN
“Currently, the BSA is discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation,” said the century-old youth group with 2.6 million boys in its membership ranks.
“This would mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation,” it said.
It added that religious, civic and educational organizations that oversee scouting at the local level would be free to determine for themselves how to address the issue of gay and lesbian participation.
It did not say when the change of policy might come, but the BSA's national board of directors is scheduled to meet next week, U.S. news media reported.
Unlike the Girl Scouts of the USA, a separate organization, the Boy Scouts has long maintained a ban on “open or avowed homosexuals” from participating either as members or adult leaders.
Its stance was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000, but it has come under pressure in recent years to change tack in the face of growing public acceptance of homosexuality.
More than 1.2 million people signed an online petition on Change.org demanding an end to the policy.
“The Boy Scouts of America have heard from scouts, corporations and millions of Americans that discriminating against gay scouts and scout leaders is wrong,” said Herndon Graddick of the LGBT rights group GLAAD on Monday.
“This would be an incredible step forward in the right direction,” added Zach Wahls of Scouts for Equality, which used social media to encourage corporate supporters of BSA to suspend their donations.