The Boy Scouts of America revealed Monday that the organization is giving serious consideration to lifting its longstanding prohibition on participation by gays and lesbians — and to instead let local groups that charter Scouting units to set their own policies.
The new idea being floated comes just six months after the BSA had reaffirmed its ban in July 2012. If the BSA goes through with the change, Southampton and Sag Harbor Scouting units could continue to observe a ban, or become inclusive to all sexual orientations.
However, it is not the local Boy Scout troops and Cub Scout packs' own leadership committees that will get to decide. The policy will be set by the chartering organizations behind the units.
"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," BSA spokesman Deron Smith said in a statement. "BSA members and parents would be able to choose a local unit that best meets the needs of their families."
Troop 58, of Southampton, is chartered by the Southampton United Methodist Church, which belongs to a denomination whose official policy permits avowed homosexuals to be members and receive the sacraments, but not to become clergy.
Sag Harbor's Boy Scout unit, Troop 455, is chartered by American Legion Auxiliary Post 388 in Sag Harbor Village.
American Legion’s National Executive Committee in 2010 stated that the Legion has "no position on the compatibility of homosexuality and military service," but did vote to oppose the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
Smith noted that "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.”
Do you think the Boy Scouts of America should go through with changing its policy regarding sexual orientation? How should local chartering organization act? Weigh in by leaving a comment below.