BY NATASHA BARSOTTI — After a three-day closed-door meeting, the Boy Scouts of America has decided it needs more time to decide whether it will lift its ban on allowing openly gay people in its ranks.
The organization began deliberations Feb 4 on a new policy that would leave it up to local Scout branches to decide whether they'd welcome openly gay members.
"After careful consideration and extensive dialogue within the Scouting family, along with comments from those outside the organization, the volunteer officers of the Boy Scouts of America's National Executive Board concluded that due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a more deliberate review of its membership policy," the BSA said following the meeting.
"To that end, the executive board directed its committees to further engage representatives of Scouting's membership and listen to their perspectives and concerns. This will assist the officers' work on a resolution on membership standards. The approximately 1,400 voting members of the national council will take action on the resolution at the national meeting in May 2013," the statement says.
A CBS Houston report says supporters of the BSA's exclusionary policy staged a rally and prayer vigil today (Feb 6) at the Dallas headquarters of the BSA, urging it not to invite sin into the organization.
"A Scout is supposed to be brave, and the Boy Scouts failed to be brave today," the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) quotes former Cub Scout volunteer Jennifer Tyrrell as saying following the BSA's decision. Tyrrell was removed from her seven-year-old’s Cub Scout Pack because she's gay, prompting her to start a change.org petition that garnered more than 330,000 signatures in support of ending the ban. Tyrrell and other opponents of the Scouts' exclusionary policy delivered 1.4 million signatures from combined change.org petitions to the BSA's headquarters Feb 4, urging the organization to end the ban.
"The Boy Scouts had the chance to help countless young people and devoted parents, but they've failed us yet again," Tyrrell says. "No parent should have to look their child in the eye and explain that the Boy Scouts don't want us. Our fight will continue and we will continue to educate donors and supporters of the Boy Scouts about the effects of their anti-gay policy."
In its own statement on the delay, GLAAD also condemned the BSA's decision.
"The Boy Scouts of America is choosing to ignore the cries of millions, including religious institutions, current scouting families, and corporate sponsors, but these cries will not be silenced," president Herndon Graddick says. "We're living in a culture where hurting young gay people because of who they are is unpopular and discriminatory. They had the chance to end the pain this ban has caused to young people and parents, they chose to extend the pain."