The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) is considering relaxing its ban on gay scouts and leaders but LGBT groups say it’s just not good enough.
The BSA has been under growing pressure to end its decades-long national policy of restricting gays and lesbians from participating in the organisation.
While US courts have affirmed the BSA’s right as a private organisation to place restrictions on its membership, the policy has been condemned by President Obama and has resulted in the BSA losing corporate sponsorship.
The BSA is now considering dropping the national ban and instead allowing the religious or civic sponsors of each chapter or unit to make their own policy on the issue.
BSA spokesman Deron Smith told the Washington Post that under the proposal “the Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents”.
The BSA’s national board will vote on the proposed policy change next Wednesday, in a closed meeting.
America’s largest LGBT rights group, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), however, is not entirely happy about the possible policy change.
“While it is good news that the onerous national ban will come to an end, it’s not acceptable to abdicate non-discrimination standards to local units,” said HRC President Chad Griffin.
“It’s akin to a national restaurant chain saying that it will not discriminate at its corporate headquarters, but allow local restaurants to discriminate at will. Make no mistake, this policy creates a separate but equal system where some troops welcome all members and others still turn gay scouts away.”
Griffin insisted that “this problem will only be solved when BSA proactively institutes a national non-discrimination policy that prohibits anti-gay discrimination so that no young American or family is excluded from the proud tradition of scouting.”
A December 2012 USA Today/Gallup poll found that 53% of American opposed the idea of gay adults serving as Boy Scout leaders.