The national organization of the Boy Scouts of America is considering a dramatic change in its controversial policy of excluding gay people as Scouts and leaders.
The announcement of the possible change came Monday, leaving it up to local organizations to decide how to address the issue. Under the proposed change, said BSA spokesman Deron Smith, "the Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members or parents," the Associated Press reported.
The policy came under intense scrutiny last year when Moraga Scout Ryan Andresen was denied his Eagle Scout badge after he had come out to his troop and leaders as gay. Andresen's family organized a petition drive on Change.org, which had 468,902 signatures at 12:20 p.m. Monday. Andresen's Eagle Scout project was planning and creating a 288-tile "tolerance wall" that now decorates a wall at Joaquin Moraga Intermediate School in Moraga.
"I hope that the BSA Board does actually approve this change,” stated Eric Andresen of Moraga, father of Ryan Andresen, in a news release. “It’s the right thing to do, and would mean so much to Ryan, his mother and our family, and to thousands of other scouts who have been forced into very difficult, emotionally charged situations because of the existing ban."
From the Boy Scouts of America statement:
"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. 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.”
“The Boy Scouts of America have heard from scouts, corporations and millions of Americans that discriminating against gay scouts and scout leaders is wrong,” stated GLAAD President Herndon Graddick, president of GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliances Against Defamation), in a news release. “Scouting is a valuable institution and this change will only strengthen its core principles of fairness and respect.”