The Boy Scouts of America announced today that it will continue its long-standing policy of discrimination against LGBT scouts and scout leaders and will take no action on proposals to reconsider that policy. This comes despite growing pressure to lift the ban from Eagle Scouts, an Ohio mom who was removed from her position as a Cub Scout den leader purely because she is a lesbian, and two prominent national board members.
A spokesman said a secret 11-person committee, appointed in 2010 to study the issue, “came to the conclusion that this policy is absolutely the best policy for the Boy Scouts.” The group dismissed the announcements by Ernst & Young CEO James Turley and AT&T; CEO Randall Stephenson, both members of the BSA national board, that the group ought to lift its ban. In a statement, the group’s leadership announced:
Scouting believes that good people can personally disagree on this topic and still work together to achieve the life-changing benefits to youth through Scouting. While not all board members may personally agree with this policy, and may choose a different direction for their own organizations, BSA leadership agrees this is the best policy for the organization.
Last month, the BSA said that a resolution introduced in April proposing that local chartering units be able to determine whether to welcome LGBT participants and leaders would be “handled with respect.” With no apparent board consideration, the group says it will take no further action on the proposal.
Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin called BSA’s move “a missed opportunity of colossal proportions.” With 86 percent of Fortune 500 companies explicitly protecting gay and lesbian employees from discrimination, LGBT servicemembers now free to serve openly in the U.S. military, and every other major national youth organization opting not to discriminate, BSA has opted to stand alone in clinging to a policy that drives its membership down and flies in the face of its own core tenets.
Boy Scouts of America spokesman Deron Smith told ThinkProgress that the organization would not make the committee’s report public, noting that “The special committee consisted of members with a variety of beliefs on this topic but the conclusion was unanimous.” When asked how a unanimous conclusion could indicate a “variety of beliefs,” Smith offered only an equally cryptical response that the committee members “had different opinions about the policy, but the two year evaluation resulted in an unanimous consensus that this was in the best interest of Scouting.” Smith would not identify the names of the 11 committee members.