Barred: Jennifer Tyrrell with her son Cruz

Despite massive pressure to change, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) says that it will continue to bar gays and lesbians from the organisation.

The organisation announced on Tuesday that after a two year review, a secret 11 member committee had unanimously backed its current policy.

The BSA National Executive Board released a statement backing the committee’s decision: “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.

“While not all Board members may personally agree with this policy, and may choose a different direction for their own organisations, BSA leadership agrees this is the best policy for the organisation and supports it for the BSA,” said the board.

The news infuriated LGBT rights groups who said that they will continue to fight against the ban.

“This is a missed opportunity of colossal proportions,” commented Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. “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. These adults could have taught the next generation of leaders the value of respect, yet they’ve chosen to teach division and intolerance.”

US courts have affirmed the BSA’s right as a private organisation to place restrictions on its membership and prohibit gays and lesbians from becoming members or serving in leadership positions.

The issue came to the fore in April after lesbian mom Jennifer Tyrrell from Ohio was barred from continuing as a Tiger Cub den leader of her son’s Scout pack because of her sexuality. Her petition calling for the BSA to reconsider its policy has been signed by over 300,000 people.

Tyrrell and her 7-year-old son Cruz will deliver the more than 300,000 signatures and comments from the petition to the BSA’s national headquarters in Dallas today.

“This campaign doesn’t stop, and we will continue to show the Boy Scouts that discrimination and intolerance have no place in scouting,” said Tyrrell. “On Wednesday, I look forward to sharing with the BSA thousands of comments from families like mine that say the time is now to end this anti-gay policy.”

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