I suspect that no one knows for certain what has prompted the national board of the Boy Scouts of America ("BSA") to suddenly indicate that the group will consider ending its ban on gay scouts and scout leaders next week. Some speculate that the loss of millions of dollars in financial support from a growing number of national corporations is taking its toll. Then there's the reality that the vast majority of the younger generations are gay friendly which could perhaps be making scouting look less and less attractive to new generations of boys and teens. And, of course, there is the steady drip drip of negative publicity over honorable scouts and scout leaders being unceremoniously thrown out of the organization for their innate sexual orientation. Whatever the real motivation, BSA seems to been in a hurry to make sure the media had heard of the possible change in national policy. Think Progress looks at this developing story. Here are highlights:
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.
But it remains to be seen whether consideration will mean action. . . . . 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.”