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Pro-family and religious leaders are strongly imploring leaders in the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) not to cave in on the organization’s longtime policy banning homosexuals from serving as scout leaders. A BSA spokesman said that the move could come as early as the first week in February. “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,” said BSA spokesman Deron Smith in a statement. He explained that the Boy Scouts “would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents. This would mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation, and the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with each organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs.”


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If the change occurs, it would represent an about-face to the BSA’s decision last year that, following a two-year study, it would continue with the ban on homosexual leaders that has been in place since the organization’s founding in 1910. In explaining that 2012 decision, the BSA’s chief executive officer, Bob Mazzuca, explained that the “vast majority of the parents of youth we serve value their rights to address issues of same-sex orientation within their family, with spiritual advisers, and at the appropriate time and in the right setting.”

The shocking proposed policy change also comes following the release last year of thousands of BSA files from 1965 to 1985 that revealed the organization’s unceasing battle to stop sexual predators from infiltrating the ranks of Scouting leadership in order to prey on boys.

The expected change to allow homosexuals is seen by many observers as a reaction to intense pressure that has been placed on the organization over the past several months, including the announcement by major donors UPS and Intel to pull their funding. Those companies succumbed to a pressure campaign led by former Eagle Scout Zach Wahls, founder of the pro-homosexual group Scouts for Equality. On his group’s site Wahls applauded the BSA’s proposed move as “an important step forward.” But noting that the decision on whether or not to allow gay leaders will be left in the hands of state and local Scouting programs, he complained that “discrimination — whether it’s at the national level or the local level — sends a harmful message to all youth, gay or not, and has no place in Scouting.” He promised to mount a campaign to pressure individual BSA councils to drop their prohibition of homosexual leaders.

Meanwhile, longtime members and supporters of the Boy Scouts noted that the organization’s policy barring homosexuals has always been closely connected to its official Boy Scout Oath, which requires that the conduct of the group’s members — as well as its leaders — remain “morally straight.” In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that the Boy Scouts of America was within its rights to maintain its proscription against homosexual Scout leaders. The High Court noted that enforcing traditional moral values was crucial to the organization’s “expressive message,” and to compel it to include homosexual leaders would violate its longtime values. Writing for the 5-4 majority in the case, Chief Justice William Rehnquist explained: “Forcing a group to accept certain members may impair the ability of the group to express those views and only those views, it intends to express.”

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