Boy Scouts Board Will Consider Lifting National Anti-Gay Ban Next Week

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"Boy Scouts Board Will Consider Lifting National Anti-Gay Ban Next Week"

Jen Tyrrell and George Takei

Former Den Leader Jen Tyrrell and former Boy Scout George Takei protest the BSA's anti-gay ban, at the 2012 New York City Pride parade

Days after forcing a Cub Scout pack to drop a non-discrimination policy that included sexual orientation — and just six months after a full-throated reaffirmation of the policy — the Boy Scouts of America’s (BSA) board is apparently considering dropping its nationwide policy of discrimination.

Deron Smith, national spokesman for the BSA told ThinkProgress that the national board will make any decision, “at the appropriate time,” but confirmed that they “anticipate discussion on the matter at the National Executive Board at the next regularly scheduled board meeting the week of Feb. 4.” The board’s meetings are not open to the public or press.

Smith’s initial statement on the potential U-turn, first reported by NBC News, stated:

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.

Eagle Scout Zach Wahls, founder of Scouts for Equality, told ThinkProgress that such a change would be “an incredible step forward in the right direction.”

But it remains to be seen whether consideration will mean action. Last June, the Associated Press reported that the organization had agreed to consider such a change in 2013, but weeks later the BSA announced it had ended its consideration and that a secret committee had unanimously decided to keep the ban in place.

Over the past year, openly lesbian mom Jen Tyrrell was ousted from her position as Cub Scout Den Leader, 17-year-old Eric Jones was fired from his job at a Scout Camp for being gay, and openly gay Scout Ryan Andresen was denied his Eagle Scout award for his “avowed homosexuality.”

In their 2012 presidential campaign, both former BSA national board member Mitt Romney and honorary BSA president Barack Obama agreed that BSA should end its policy of discrimination.

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