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Boy Scouts reaffirm exclusion of gay leaders

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) – After a confidential two-year review, the Boy Scouts of America is upholding its policy to exclude homosexuals from membership and leadership posts in the group, despite activists’ cries for change.

“The vast majority of the parents of youth we serve value their rights to address issues of same-sex orientation within their family, with spiritual advisers, and at the appropriate time and in the right setting,” Bob Mazzuca, BSA chief scout executive, said in a BSA press release. “While a majority of our membership agrees with our policy, we fully understand that no single policy will accommodate the many diverse views among our membership or society.”

BSA also noted “that there will be no further action” on the matter.

But that didn’t stop dismissed Ohio Scout den mother Jennifer Tyrrell, a lesbian, from taking to the BSN’s Irving, Texas, office a petition demanding her reinstatement. Tyrrell took to the office a Change.org petition reportedly with 300,000 signatures.

“I hope to deliver the message that hundreds of thousands of people want this changed,” she told CNN affiliate WFAA July 17. “It’s not just me, it’s Scouts, former Scouts, Scout leaders, Scout masters, council members, everyone you could imagine, and they’re ready for this change, and they are tired of seeing people discriminated against.”

While the BSA press release indicated the 11-member review committee formed in 2010 included a “diversity of perspectives and opinions,” BSA spokesman Deron Smith told the Associated Press the committee was unanimous in its decision.

Names of committee members were not disclosed. But at least two members of the BSA national executive board, Ernst & Young leader James Turley and AT&T head Randall Stephenson, have indicated their desire to change the policy, according to the Associated Press. Stephenson, the AP reported, is on track to become president of the BSA national board in 2014.

The BSA in its press release alluded to disagreement within its own board.

“Scouting believes that good people can personally disagree on this topic and still work together to achieve the life-changing benefits to youth through Scouting,” the BSA said. “While not all Board members may personally agree with this policy, and may choose a different direction for their own organizations, BSA leadership agrees this is the best policy for the organization and supports it for the BSA.”

The U.S. Supreme Court in June 2000 upheld the Scouts’ membership policy as constitutional.
Compiled by Baptist Press staff writer Diana Chandler. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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