After intense backlash, the national Boy Scouts organization is finally considering dropping their ban on openly gay scouts and leaders.
The decision will be considered by the national board of directors and, if green-lit, the new policy will leave it up to individual troops to admit out scouts and leaders. The board meets next week.
“For more than 100 years Scouting’s focus has been on working together to deliver the nation’s foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training," Boy Scouts spokesman Deron Smith said in a statement to The Advocate. "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, but that the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with their organization’s mission, principles or religious beliefs. BSA members and parents would be able to choose a local unit which 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.”
The organization has dug in its heels lately, declaring in July that it would not rescind its ban. It also successfully pressured a Maryland troop, via the Washington, D.C. umbrella troop organization, to remove a pro-gay nondiscrimination policy from its website.
But it's troops like the one in Maryland that may get the national organization to change the policy. NBC News says local troops have been applying pressure to the national organization to end the ban, which was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2000. Aside from local groups, both corporations and President Obama have told the Scouts that the ban should end.
Read more from NBC News. And watch the report from Pete Williams below.