Boy Scouts Didn't Want You to Know They Were Reconsidering Antigay Policy

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By Erin Rook, PQ Monthly
Things seem to be a hot mess over at Boy Scouts of America headquarters. Last July, the BSA reaffirmed its ban on gay scouts and leaders following a two year review of the controversial policy. Then in January, NBC reports that the BSA is considering changing its policy in favor of a decentralized but still not equal approach that would allow troupes to make their own policies regarding gay members. (Note: Still no policy on trans scouts, like the vastly more progressive Girl Scouts have.) GLAAD publicizes a number you can call to urge the BSA to make it's policy less uniformly discriminatory. But when decision-day arrived on Tuesday, the BSA announced it would be postponing its decision until May's National Executive  Board Meeting. Now, the New York Times reports that the BSA never meant for the public to know to know it was reevaluating its policy. Someone leaked the info to the press. According to the NY Times:

The proposed shift in policy has been portrayed in news accounts mostly as a kind of trial balloon, floated to gauge sentiment about where scouting might go on a hugely divisive question. But the proposal, though seriously in consideration, was not supposed to become public at this moment, Scouts officials confirmed. The plan for the meeting this week was a quiet discussion behind closed doors, they said, free from the outside pressures that have buffeted scouting, especially since summer, when the organization reaffirmed its ban on gay scouts and leaders after a two-year review.

Instead, the exact opposite of quiet deliberation broke loose with a fury on Jan. 28, when word of the proposed change was confirmed in a statement from Boy Scouts headquarters, followed by further reverberations this week when the Boy Scouts said the decision would be deferred until the annual national meeting in May. Groups on both sides said on Friday that the three-month window to marshal their forces and tactics in influencing opinion inside and outside scouting would be exploited with gusto. Without the leak, and the expectations about sudden change that arose as a result, there would not have been a window at all.

Gay men who were scouts in their youth face the difficult decision to take pride in their scouting achievements, send back (or destroy) their medals, or creatively protest the ban by hacking their medals.

In the meantime, funding for the BSA is beginning to dry up. A number of companies -- including Intel, which donated nearly $200,000 to the organization in 2010 -- have stopped supported the BSA in light of its antigay policy.

Even President Barack Obama thinks the Boy Scouts should lift the ban.