WASHINGTON, April 19 (UPI) -- The Boy Scouts of America said Friday its national council will consider a proposal to admit gay scouts but keep in place a ban on gay men as scout leaders.
The council is to vote in May on a proposal that states, "No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone." If approved, the new policy would take effect Jan. 1, 2014, the organization said on its website.
The organization has been under pressure on the issue -- both from those demanding it change the policy and those who demand it maintain the ban on gay scouts.
The proposed change followed hundreds of town-hall meetings and polling of more than 1 million members, BSA President Wayne Perry said Friday in the statement announcing the proposal to drop the ban on gay scouts.
"Scouting's review confirmed that this issue remains among the most complex and challenging issues facing the BSA and society today," BSA President Wayne Perry said in a statement announcing the proposed change. "Even with the wide range of input, it is extremely difficult to accurately quantify the potential impact of maintaining or changing the current policy."
Perry said parents, adults involved in scouting and teens "tend to agree that youth should not be denied the benefits of scouting."
"We believe the BSA can no longer sacrifice its mission, or the youth served by the movement, by allowing the organization to be consumed by a single, controversial and unresolved societal issue," Perry said.
Lobbying on the issue included pressure on the United Way, The Washington Post reported Friday.
Letters to the United Way from parents supporting an end to the ban argued since the District of Columbia United Way, which has given more than $1 million to the scouts in the past five years, does not discriminate against gay people, neither should the recipients of its funding, the Post reported.
In a meeting with concerned parents, William Hanbury, president of the United Way of the National Capital Area, told parents he has a gay son who left scouting when he was 13, sensing "he wasn't going to be accepted," Hanbury said.
Nearly half the scout leaders in the Salt Lake City area said they would leave the organization if the ban is lifted, but legislators in California are considering stripping the BSA of its non-profit tax status if the ban is not lifted, the newspaper noted.
BSA will retain of conditions of membership, including accepting one's "duty to God," and the resolution to be voted on in May "reinforces that Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting."