On Monday, two Boy Scouts of America (BSA) board members, Randall Stephenson and James Turley, announced they will seek to end the organization’s ban on gay members. Stephenson, who will assume the position of national chairman in 2014, and Turley hope to implement a policy that would put the power to admit or not admit gay boys and men to the Boy Scouts in the hands of the individual civic organizations which fund units. Currently, that power lies with the organization on a national level. The BSA’s longstanding policy on homosexuality may be challenged before the board as soon as next week.

“The chartered organizations that oversee and deliver scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with their organization´┐Żs mission, principles or religious beliefs,” said BSA spokesman Daron Smith,in reference to the proposed change. He went on to say that parents would be permitted to sort through the policies of local chapters and place their child in the one most on par with their views.

The organization has been heavily scrutinized over their policy prohibiting openly gay scouts and leaders. In June of 2012, the BSA executive board issued a memorandum reiterating their policy: boys and men are not to be asked about their sexuality, but those who explicitly state that they are gay will be denied admittance. Entities with antidiscrimination policies, for example public schools and large corporations, have been withdrawing financial and in kind support of the Boy Scouts and have circulated petitions in significant numbers against the exclusionary policy. In 2000, in the Supreme Court case Dale v. Boy Scouts of America, the Supreme Court ruled that the organization was within their rights when they denied a gay teen membership in 2000.

Media Resources: Cornell University Law School Legal Information Institute 2000; Boy Scouts of America Blog 06/07/2012; Associated Press 01/28/2013; NBCNews.com 01/28/2013; Washington Post 07/19/2012

Boy Scout Uniform & US Flag from Shutterstock

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