Irving-based Boy Scouts of America may soon strike down its longstanding policy blocking gays from joining as either scouts or adult leaders, according to a statement released Monday.

The organized said thedecision may come as early as next week, when executive leaders meet. Officialswill discuss whether to abolish its national policy, but would likely leave local guidelines up to the troops, spokesman Deron Smith said.

In July, the Boy Scouts reaffirmed the policy, complete with a national spokesman telling the Associated Press that not allowing gay individuals to participate was the "absolute best" for the organization.

However, Randall Stephenson, a chief executive at AT&T who is the group's next chairman,has vowed to strike the ban down.

Below is the statement Smith sent out to media outlets announcing the discussions:

For more than 100 years, Scouting s focus has been on working together to deliver the nation s foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training. Scouting has always been in an ongoing dialogue with the Scouting family to determine what is in the best interest of the organization and the young people we serve.

Currently, the BSA is discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation. 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 members and parents would be able to choose a local unit that best meets the needs of their families.

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. 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.

The proposal came as welcome news to local gay right's advocates.

Sharon Salih, who publishes a local newsletter for Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays--PFLAG-- said the the issue is intensely personal for a lot families. Her own son, who is gay, was an Eagle Scout.

"Sexual orientation doesn't have anything to do with the quality of leadership, or the quality of the boys themselves. Sexual orientation is only a part of who they are," said Salih.

Read or Share this story: