On Monday, February 4, 2013, the Boy Scouts of America began debates to consider ending its long standing policy of banning gay scouts and leaders. Announcement of the probable change came after years of protests over the policy, including petition campaigns.
This exclusionary rule ultimately prompted some corporate supporters, such as Merck, to suspend funding to the Boy Scouts. Several groups rallied near the national headquarters in Irving, Texas, both in opposition of and for the change in policy. Other sponsors such as Ernst & Young and AT&T, declared in 2012 to work together to change the policy after a den leader in Ohio was ejected from her position due to her sexual orientation.
The proposed policy under discussion would leave the decision to accept gay scouts to the individual troops. BSA Spokesman, Deron Smith, revealed to The Associated Press that under the new policy, "the Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents."
In an CBS interview this past Sunday, prior to the Super Bowl, President Obama urged the Boy Scouts to allow gays and lesbians to join. The President stated, "My attitude is that gays and lesbians should have access and opportunity, the same way everybody else does, in every institution and walk of life, and, you know, the scouts are a great institution that are promoting young people and exposing them to opportunities and leadership that will serve people for the rest of their lives…and I think that nobody should be barred from that.” Also during his campaign in 2012, President Obama revealed his opposition to the tenured policy of the exclusion of gays as members.
Texas Governor Rick Perry, on the other hand, while speaking Saturday during an annual meeting of Boy Scouts from around Texas, expressed his personal experiences in scouting and made it clear that he was in opposition of changing the debated policy. Perry stated, "Scouting is about teaching a substantial amount of life lessons...Sexuality is not one of them. Never has been and doesn't need to be."
It is expected that an announcement could come as early as next week after the BSA’s national executive board holds its regularly scheduled meeting. In the light of recent political moves, most are assuming the policy will be overturned.