Caught in an ideological crossfire, the Boy Scouts of America is putting off a decision on whether to ease its policy of excluding gays. Whatever the organization eventually does, it’s likely to anger major constituencies and worsen schisms within Scouting.
The delay, which the Scouts attributed to “the complexity of this issue,” was announced Wednesday after closed-door deliberations by the BSA’s national executive board. Under consideration was a proposal to ease the long-standing ban on gays by allowing sponsors of local troops to decide for themselves on the membership of gay Scouts and adult leaders.
As the board met over three days near Dallas, it became clear that the proposal would be unacceptable to large numbers of impassioned Scouting families and advocacy groups on the left and right.
The iconic youth organization is deeply entangled in the broader cultural and political conflicts over such issues as same-sex marriage and religious freedom. Tilting toward either side will probably alienate the other.
The BSA’s national spokesman, Deron Smith, said the board would prepare a resolution to be voted on during the week of May 20 in Grapevine, Texas.
The organization had announced last week that it was considering allowing Scout troops to decide whether to allow gay membership.