The Boy Scouts of America has decided it will continue to exclude gay members following a confidential two-year review process conducted in the midst of mounting public opposition to the policy.
According to the Associated Press, the group’s national spokesman Deron Smith said an 11-member special committee unanimously “came to the conclusion that this policy is absolutely the best policy for the Boy Scouts.” The organization said that members of the confidential committee represented a “diversity of perspectives and opinions” from professional scout executives to volunteers.
In the short term, the decision ends the prospects for a resolution recently submitted to ask the Scouts to reexamine the policy. This past weekend weekend, an Eagle Scout in Missouri was fired from his job as a camp counselor after he came out to the camp director.
“This is a missed opportunity of colossal proportions,” said Human Rights Campaign president Chad Griffin in a statement. “With the country moving toward inclusion, the leaders of the Boy Scouts of America have instead sent a message to young people that only some of them are valued. These adults could have taught the next generation of leaders the value of respect, yet they’ve chosen to teach division and intolerance.”
The controversial policy, which bans gay people from serving as Scouts or leaders, was upheld by a Supreme Court ruling in 2000 on the grounds of freedom of association, but opponents have remained vocal over the past decade. Jennifer Tyrrell, an Ohio lesbian booted from her post as a den mother to her son’s Cub Scout troop, has received more than 300,000 online responses to her ongoing campaign to be reinstated. The AP reports that the petition will be delivered to the Scouts’ national headquarters in Irving, Texas, Wednesday. Her effort has also enlisted support from Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout from Iowa and advocate for LGBT families.
Bob Mazzuca, chief executive of the organization, told the AP that most Scout families support the policy. However, two members of the national executive board, Ernst & Young CEO James Turley and AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, who appears poised to lead the national board in 2014, have expressed commitment to changing the policy, according to the Dallas Voice. Their position suggests that despite the announcement Tuesday, an end to the ban is still possible within the next few years.