The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Board’s decision to hold off on deciding on whether or not to end its national ban on gay scouts and scout leaders has been condemned as a failure of leadership.

The board had been set to vote on revising its homophobic policy yesterday in a closed meeting, but instead delayed making a decision until the BSA’s National Annual Meeting in May.

The board said in a statement “that due to the complexity of this issue, the organisation needs time for a more deliberate review of its membership policy”.

Under the proposed change, the national ban would be lifted and each chapter or unit would be allowed to make its own policy on the issue of allowing gay members.

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said that the delay “is another day that discrimination prevails. Now is the time for action.  Young Americans, gay and straight, are hurt by the inaction associated with today’s news.”

Jennifer Tyrrell, a lesbian mother from Ohio, who was ousted as the leader of her son’s Cub Scout Pack in April 2012 because of her sexual orientation, said she was deeply disappointed at the news.

“A scout is supposed to be brave, and the Boy Scouts failed to be brave today,” said Tyrrell. “The Boy Scouts had the chance to help countless young people and devoted parents, but they’ve failed us yet again.

“No parents should have to look their child in the eye and explain that the Boy Scouts don’t want us. Our fight will continue and we will continue to educate donors and supporters of the Boy Scouts about the effects of their anti-gay policy.”

“This is an abdication of responsibility,” commented straight Eagle Scout Zach Wahls, the founder of Scouts for Equality.

“By postponing this decision, the BSA has caved to those who argue that their anti-gay attitudes trump basic Scouting values of kindness, courtesy and bravery. Scouting was built on a foundation of respect and dignity. Today, the BSA cracked that foundation,” said Wahls.

Poll results released on Wednesday by Quinnipiac University found that a strong majority of US voters believe it is time for the BSA to end its ban on openly gay members.  Only 33 percent of voters said the ban should remain in place.

On Monday, petitions urging the BSA to end the ban, backed by more than 1.4 million signatures, were delivered to its headquarters in Dallas.

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