The Boy Scouts of America on Friday announced a proposal to end its ban on gay youth members, but not its exclusion of openly gay leaders.
The proposed change to its membership guidelines could mean that youths will no longer be denied membership based upon their sexual orientation or preference.
“While perspectives and opinions vary significantly, parents, adults in the scouting community, and teens alike tend to agree that youth should not be denied the benefits of scouting,” the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) said in a statement on Friday.
“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 to youth 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 BSA’s ban on gay Scouts and gay leaders has grown increasingly controversial. In March, singer Carly Rae Jepsen and the band Train both dropped out of performing at this year’s Boy Scouts National Jamboree in protest of the BSA’s policy. Later that month, Chipotle Mexican Grill pulled out of its sponsorship of Utah’s BSA event, “Scout-O-Rama,” saying that it was doing so to remain consistent with its own policy, according to The Associated Press.
The BSA conducted a study beginning in February exploring the points of view of its members, parents, youth, donors and strategic partners within the organization towards its membership standards policy regarding exclusion of homosexuals.
According to its summary of study findings from 200,000 respondents, the BSA discovered that parents in three of four BSA regions opposed the current membership policy excluding openly homosexual members.
In addition, the study found that parents over the age of 50, who, in the past, had supported their policy of exclusion to homosexual members, now opposed the BSA’s current policy with a majority.
As a result of the review, the BSA announced Friday’s proposal to amend the resolution in an effort to make progress towards what it called, “the most complex and challenging issues facing the BSA and society today,” according to the BSA’s statement.
While the BSA did not comment on what reactions it has received so far since its announcement, it noted in its summary of study findings that “a membership policy change that includes both youth and adults could cause the BSA to incur membership losses in a range from 100,000 to 350,000.”
GLAAD, a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organization, addressed the BSA’s continued refusal to allow gay leaders.
“By refusing to consider an end to its ban on gay and lesbian parents, the Boy Scouts have missed an opportunity to exercise leadership and usher the organization back to relevancy,” Rich Ferraro, vice president of communications at GLAAD, said in a statement. “We’re living in a culture where, until every young person’s family is treated equally and able to contribute, the Boy Scouts will continue to see a decline in both membership and donations.”
The conservative Family Research Council opposed the resolution altogether and created an online petition urging the BSA to keep the ban on gay youth members, according to the AP.
During the week of May 20, the BSA’s resolution will go to review before 1,400 voting members of its National Council at a meeting in Texas.