Boy Scout executives should delay making any decision about changing the national membership policy on gays until the organization’s councils have had a chance to speak on the issue, a Boy Scouts of America council leader said Tuesday.
“We’re the largest council in the United States. We have not been involved in this discussion one bit,” and neither have a lot of other BSA councils, said Kay Godfrey, director of development and public relations for the Great Salt Lake Council in Utah, which represents 33 councils and 540,000 youth members.
For years, the BSA has not permitted open gays to join the organization. This membership policy was reaffirmed in July, so when the BSA announced Jan. 28 that its leaders were going to consider rescinding it, “We were caught totally off guard,” said Mr. Godfrey.
The Great Salt Lake Council has urged members of the BSA National Executive Board to delay their decision when they vote Wednesday.
“We want to be engaged in the discussion process,” said Mr. Godfrey. “All we’re asking is [to] slow the train down long enough so that we can all get on board and have a discussion on this, and make sure stakeholders and shareholders are involved.”
This week, dozens of organizations, including the Southern Baptist Convention, urged the BSA to maintain its policy in an ad in USA Today.
Changing the membership policy “will be a catastrophe” for the Boy Scouts, convention leader Richard Land told CNN on Tuesday. More than 1 million people belong to BSA troops associated with religious groups, such as Baptists, Mormons, Roman Catholics and Methodists, and those groups are overwhelmingly opposed to a policy change, he said.
But Scouts and groups that favor admitting gays have delivered more than 1 million signatures to BSA headquarters in Irving, Texas.
Even President Obama has weighed in, telling a CBS reporter that “my attitude is that gays and lesbians should have access and opportunity the same way everybody else does in every institution and walk of life.”