After a confidential two-year review, the Boy Scouts of America on Tuesday emphatically reaffirmed its policy of excluding gays, ruling out any changes despite relentless protest campaigns by some critics.
An 11-member special committee, formed discreetly by top Scout leaders in 2010, “came to the conclusion that this policy is absolutely the best policy for the Boy Scouts,” the organization’ national spokesman, Deron Smith, told The Associated Press.
Smith said the committee, comprised of professional scout executives and adult volunteers, was unanimous in its conclusion — preserving a long-standing policy that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000 and has remained controversial ever since.
As a result of the committee’s decision, the Scouts’ national executive board will take no further action on a recently submitted resolution asking for reconsideration of the membership policy.
The Scouts’ chief executive, Bob Mazzuca, contended that most Scout families support the policy, which applies to both 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. “We fully understand that no single policy will accommodate the many diverse views among our membership or society.”
The president of the largest U.S. gay-rights group, Chad Griffin of the Human Rights Campaign, depicted the Scouts’ decision as “a missed opportunity of colossal proportions.”
“With the country moving toward inclusion, the leaders of the Boy Scouts of America have instead sent a message to young people that only some of them are valued,” he said. “They’ve chosen to teach division and intolerance.”
The Scouts did not identify the members of the special committee that studied the issue, but said in a statement that they represented “a diversity of perspectives and opinions.”
“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.