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Boy Scouts reconsidering stance on gay members

3:28 PM, Jan 28, 2013   |    comments
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(CBS NEWS) -- The Boy Scout of America is considering ending its longstanding national membership restrictions based on sexual orientation.

Deron Smith, a spokesperson for the Boy Scouts of America, said in a statement that the BSA is discussing potentially removing the national organization's restriction, allowing membership and the selection of scout leaders to be determined by local chartered organizations "consistent with each organization's mission, principles, or religious beliefs.

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

Scouting officials will take up the matter at next week's scheduled national Board meeting.

Smith said that the BSA would not dictate a position to units, members, or parents, "[or] require any chartered organization to act in ways inconsistent" with that organization's principles or religious beliefs.

Smith said that the change, if implemented, would allow scouts and their parents to choose a local chapter that best suits their needs.

Last July, following a confidential two-year review by a special committee, the national organization reaffirmed its policy of excluding gays, despite protest campaigns by critics. The committee determined that maintaining the ban was "absolutely the best policy" for the Boy Scouts, Smith told The Associated Press at the time.

Since 2000, the Boy Scouts have been targeted with numerous protest campaigns and run afoul of some local nondiscrimination laws because of the membership policy.

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