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Boy Scouts may soon welcome gay scouts, leaders

12:05 AM, Jan 29, 2013   |    comments
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As early as next week, the Boy Scouts of America's may announce it will allow gay scouts and troop leaders, a spokesman for the group has told USA TODAY.

If this policy shift is approved by the national board meeting at their scheduled meeting next week, it will be a sharp reversal of the Scouts' decade's old national policy banning homosexuals.

"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," BSA spokesman Deron Smith said in a statement to USA TODAY.

Only seven months ago, the Boy Scouts affirmed that policy after a nearly two-year examination of the issue by a committee of volunteers convened by national leaders of the Boy Scouts of America, known as the BSA. However, local chapters and some members of the national board -- corporate CEO Randall Stephenson of AT&T and James Turley of Ernst & Young -- called for a reconsideration.

The proposed new policy would leave decisions on membership and leadership up to the BSA' s 290 local governing councils and 116,000 sponsoring religious and civic groups.

 

"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," Smith told USA TODAY.

 

"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," he said.

The Cleveland United Way Chapter was one of 50 nationwide which stopped funding because of the discrimination policy.

That move was controversial for them, as well, says United Way Executive Director, Bill Kitson.

"We received letters and phone calls on both sides of the issue. We obviously received folks who said that they would no longer support us. And we received new donors who said they're now supporting us because we made this change," says Kitson.

Oren Dorell and Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY

Gannett/USA Today

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