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Boy Scouts of America May Lift Ban On Gay Members

One of the largest youth organizations in the U.S. says it might take action to end its ban on homosexual membership, Boy Scouts of America said Monday.
DALLAS (ABC 4 News) - One of the largest youth organizations in the U.S. says it might take action to end its ban on homosexual membership, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) said Monday.

For much of its existence, the BSA has publicly opposed homosexual members -- citing moral principles and "duty to God." As early as 1980, the organization was refusing membership to persons who were openly gay and in 1991 released a statement outlining its official position on the matter. It said: "We believe that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the requirement in the Scout Oath that a Scout be morally straight." The statement went on to conclude, "Homosexuals do not provide a desirable role model for Scouts."

The BSA has regularly reaffirmed their stance against homosexuals over the past 20 years. As recently as June 2012, the organization again opposed homosexuality, but appeared to be taking on a softened approach to the issue.

On Monday, the BSA indicated a substantial shift in its long held position on homosexuality by saying it is considering a total removal of its current membership requirements. 

"For more than 100 years, Scouting's focus has been on working together to deliver the nation's foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training," the organization said in a statement on its website. "Currently, the BSA is discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation. This would mean there would no longer be any national policy... 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."

A spokesperson said that such a policy change, however, would not act as a national directive to all Scout branches nationwide. 

"The policy change under discussion would allow the religious, civic or educational organizations that oversee and deliver scouting to determine how to address the issue," the BSA statement said.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on Monday refused to fully respond to the BSA's possible policy change, saying that the youth organization has yet to make anything official.

"The church is aware that BSA is contemplating a change in its leadership policy. However, BSA has not yet made any such change," said church spokesperson Michael Purdy. "Until we are formally notified that it has done so, it would be inappropriate for the church to comment."

The Boy Scouts of America has nearly 3 million youth members and 1 million adult members nationwide. Since its founding in 1910, more than 110 million people have become members in the organization.

- Boy Scouts of America (official website)
- BSA statement on membership
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