The Boy Scouts of America says it will propose lifting its ban of gay members of the organization. The matter will be put to a vote of its 1,400 members of the Boy Scout National Council next month.
In a statement, the Boy Scout organization says the issue of homosexual Scouts is "complex and challenging" and the group has undertaken "the most comprehensive listening exercise in its history". The group says it's hard to determine the effect of keeping the ban on homosexual Scouts or dropping it. But they say one thing became clear - no youth should be denied the benefit of Scouting.
A statue outside the National Scouting Museum in Irving, Texas.
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The group says, "For this reason, the Executive Committee, on behalf of the National Executive Board, wrote a resolution for consideration that would remove the restriction denying membership on the basis of sexual orientation alone and would maintain the current membership policy for all adult leaders of the Boy Scouts of America. The proposed resolution 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."
In February, the Boy Scouts announced they needed more time to review the issue of gay Scouts, and deferred any decision on lifting a ban until next month. NPR's Kathy Lohr told Morning Edition that in February, gay rights activists gave the organization petitions with more than 1.4 million signatures demanding that the ban be overturned.
Kathy says opponents such as the Family Research Council and the Texas Pastor's Council have lobbied the Scouts to maintain the ban. She spoke with Dave Welch of the Pastor's Council: "Ultimately, it depends on the moral fortitude of the scouts to uphold their traditional positions and to simply say no. We are who we are. And those who want to take a different position and have an organization that involves homosexuals, go start your own."