Just seven months after the Boy Scouts of America reaffirmed its decades-old ban on admitting gay members and leaders, the organization said it could reverse that policy as early as next week.
Back in August, Beverly resident A.J. Chalifour, a Troop 6 Eagle Scout since 2002, was one of thousands nationally who protested the longstanding policy.
"Until this policy is erased, myself and many of my fellow Eagle Scouts, scouters, and peers will work to get the National Council to wake up and support a policy of inclusion rather than a policy of active discrimination which fails to live up to the tenants of the Scout oath and law,” Chalifour wrote, according to Boston.com.
Scout officials announced on Monday that the organization is considering amending its policy against homosexual participation in favor of allowing local troops to decide on their own, NBC News reports.
If the policy change is approved at next week's national executive board meeting the ban would be eliminated from the scout's rules.
"The chartered organizations that oversee and deliver scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with their organization’s mission, principles or religious beliefs,” Deron Smith, a spokesman for the Boy Scouts’ national organization told NBC News on Monday.
"I think this is a step in the right direction and it's a positive development, but I think the national organization can do more," said Gerlach. "They have basically absolved themselves of the responsibility and pushed the decision on whether or not to admit gay and lesbian scouts and leaders onto the local organizations that sponsor the local units."While the New York times reported that scout officials offered no timeline on making the formal decision, most other media outlets are anticipating a decision after discussion on the issue at next week's national executive board meeting.
Activists on both sides of the issue spoke out on Monday on the unintended consequences of leaving the decision on whether or not to allow gays up to individual scouting troops. The New York Times reported that supporters of the ban feared the Boy Scouts' softened approach could undermine the organization's legacy of producing great, moral leaders. Equality activists worried the piecemeal approach would encourage discrimination in some troops.
The battle to end the ban on gay members and leaders in the Boy Scouts began decades ago, but recently regained momentum as a result of public and private backlash when the scouts reaffirmed their policy position in 2012. That same policy endured a Supreme Court trial in 2000.
What's your opinion on allowing gay members and leaders in the Boy Scouts? Do you think Boy Scouts' headquarters should issue a more definitive policy change allowing homosexuals? What will be the repercussions of allowing individual units to ban or allow gays? Tell us in the comments below.