The Boy Scouts of America is set to ask members to lift the long-standing ban on gay members.
The organization’s board will still have to vote on the plan in May, however. And it is only lifting the ban on gay youth members, not adult leaders.
The recommendation will be put to the 1,400 members at the National Council meeting in Texas starting in the week of 20 May. It comes after years of protest and three months of research, surveys and discussions.
Deron Smith, the organization’s spokesman, told Reuters the lifting of the ban would mean ‘no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone’.
The organization sent out about 1 million surveys earlier this year and heard back from 200,000 respondents – including many churches and religious organizations.
The results showed that 61 percent favored keeping the current policy of excluding gays while 34 percent did not. But a majority of younger parents and teens were opposed to the policy.
‘While perspectives and opinions vary significantly, parents, adults in the Scouting community and teens alike tend to agree that youth should not be denied the benefits of Scouting,’ the BSA said in a statement.
It added: ‘The proposed resolution also reinforces that Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting,’
For some gay scouts, this policy will come too late.
Eric Andresen’s son, Ryan, was denied his Eagle Scout award last year because he is gay. He says the proposed policy a small step in the right direction but falls short on actually helping young people like Ryan.
‘Had this proposed policy been enacted just a few months ago, my son Ryan would’ve received his Eagle award,’ the father says. ‘But now that he’s 18, under this proposed policy, he would once again be rejected by the Boy Scouts. It’s a small step in the right direction, but it still sends a dangerous message to young people and excludes talented leaders.’