Boy Scouts try a halfway about-face on gays
The organization would allow gay scouts but continue to ban gay adults from serving as leaders, ensuring continuing controversy.
The Boy Scouts of America is proposing to lift its ban on openly gay scouts, but it wants to continue barring gays as leaders.
The decision marks an about-face of sorts for the 103-year-old organization, which had been under pressure from lawmakers and some sponsors such as Chipotle (CMG), which said the ban didn't mesh with their own antidiscrimination policies.
But by proposing to lift the ban on children only and not for leaders, the organization is likely to face continued pressure for its antigay policies.
"Congratulations to the Boy Scouts on coming up with a halfway compromise that is just going to annoy everybody," one person wrote on Twitter. Another wrote of the split decision: "How's that make sense?"
While some Scouts and sponsors raised the heat on the Boy Scouts, religious groups privately urged officials to keep the policy, The New York Times reports. Some denominations, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Roman Catholic church, sponsor scouting troops.
As the Boy Scouts continued supporting the ban, membership has fallen. It lost more than 589,000 registered Cub Scouts since 1998, according to BSA-Discrimination.org, which tracks news about the Boy Scouts' gay ban.
In the meantime, one gay-friendly scouting group has surged. Some fed-up scouts have joined Navigators USA, a small group that has an inclusive policy, leading to its membership doubling, reports Mother Jones. Navigators "welcomes all people; boys and girls and adults no matter what gender, race, lifestyle, ability, religious or lack of religious belief," according to its website.
"We knew the Boy Scouts excluded gays when we started, but we thought that was one of the old, outdated rules on its way off the books," Bryan Freed, a father of a scout who switched to a Navigators chapter, told the publication.
The Boy Scouts of America was also under pressure from lawmakers, with California politicians considering taking away some tax breaks from youth groups that ban gay members. Last year, the Boy Scouts reaffirmed its gay ban, which led to more protests against the organization.
Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi.
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