HOUSTON — The Boy Scouts of America on Tuesday reaffirmed the organization’s policy of excluding gays, despite recent protest campaigns by members, including some of the group’s board.
The announcement came after a confidential two-year review by an 11-member special committee formed by Scout leaders in 2010, a spokesman said.
Spokesman Deron Smith, based at the Boy Scouts’ headquarters outside Dallas, declined to identify members of the committee, but said in a statement sent to the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday that they represented “a diversity of perspectives and opinions.”
According to the statement, the special committee “came to the conclusion that this policy is absolutely the best policy for the Boy Scouts.”
“The review included forthright and candid conversation and extensive research and evaluations – both from within Scouting and from outside of the organization,” the statement said.
The special committee included professional Boy Scouts executives and adult volunteers, according to the statement, and was unanimous in its recommendation to preserve scouting’s long-standing policy, upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000.
As a result of the committee’s recommendation, the Boy Scouts’ executive board will take no further action on a recently submitted resolution asking for reconsideration of the membership policy, according to the statement.
The Boy Scouts’ chief executive, Bob Mazzuca, said he thinks there is broad-based support for the current policy, which applies to leaders and scouts.
“The vast majority of the parents of youth we serve value their right to address issues of same-sex orientation within their family, with spiritual advisers and at the appropriate time and in the right setting,” Mazzuca said in a Tuesday statement sent to the Times. “We fully understand that no single policy will accommodate the many diverse views among our membership or society.”
But at least two members of the Boy Scouts’ national executive board – Ernst & Young Chief Executive James Turley and AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson – recently indicated that they would try to change the policy. Stephenson is due to become president of the board in two years.
It was not clear from a Tuesday statement how the board planned to handle these internal divisions.
“Scouting believes that good people can personally disagree on this topic and still work together to achieve the life-changing benefits to youth through Scouting,” the statement said. “While not all board members may personally agree with this policy, and may choose a different direction for their own organizations, BSA leadership agrees this is the best policy for the organization.”
The Boy Scouts have faced repeated protests concerning the membership policy. On Tuesday, GLAAD highlighted the case of a 19-year-old Missouri Eagle Scout forced to leave his job as a Boy Scout camp counselor after he came out as gay last week.
“With organizations including the Girl Scouts of the USA, the Boys & Girls Club and the U.S. military allowing gay Americans to participate, the Boy Scouts of America need to find a way to treat all children and their parents fairly,” GLAAD President Herndon Graddick said in a statement. “Until this ban is lifted, the Scouts are putting parents in a situation where they have to explain to their children why some scouts and hard-working scout leaders are being turned away simply because of who they are.”
GLAAD also highlighted an ongoing protest, which drew nationwide attention earlier this year, by Jennifer Tyrrell, an ousted Ohio Boy Scout den mother forced to leave because she’s a lesbian.
More than 300,000 people have signed a Change.org petition urging the Boy Scouts to reinstate Tyrrell and to change their policy against gay members and leaders. Protest organizers plan to deliver the petition to the Boy Scouts’ national headquarters on Wednesday, where Smith said officials plan to meet with them privately.