IRVING, Texas – The Boy Scouts of America’s national executive board has delayed a decision on whether to lift its longstanding ban on gay scouts and leaders.
BSA said Wednesday the organization will take action on the resolution at its national meeting in May.
The organization said last week it was considering a shift of its policy, which has led officials to remove gay leaders and scouts. That announcement pushed years of debate over the policy to an even higher level.
President Barack Obama – Scouting’s honorary president – spoke in favor of letting gay scouts in. Others opposed a shift. Protesters on both sides rallied at BSA headquarters in Irving, outside Dallas.
The board faces several choices, none of which is likely to quell controversy. Standing pat would go against the public wishes of two high-profile board members – Ernst & Young CEO James Turley and AT&T Inc. CEO Randall Stephenson – who run companies with nondiscrimination policies and have said they would work from within to change the Scouts' policy.
Conservatives have warned of mass defections if Scouting allows gay membership to be determined by troops. Local and regional leaders, as well as the leadership of churches that sponsor troops, would be forced to consider their own policies. And policy opponents who delivered four boxes of signatures to BSA headquarters Monday said they wouldn't be satisfied by only a partial acceptance of gay scouts and leaders.
"We don't want to see Scouting gerrymandered into blue and red districts," said Brad Hankins, campaign director of Scouts for Equality.