On Friday, the organization said it changed course in part because of surveys sent to about 1 million members of the Scouting community. About 200,000 responded.
“While perspectives and opinions vary significantly, parents, adults in the Scouting community and teens alike tend to agree that youth should not be denied the benefits of Scouting,” according to the Friday statement.
As a result, the executive committee drafted a resolution proposing to remove the ban on gay youths while keeping it for all adult leaders.
“The proposed resolution also 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,” the statement said.
The Boy Scouts described the survey as “the most comprehensive listening exercise in its history.”
In a summary of the findings, it said respondents supported the current policy of excluding gays by a margin of 61 percent to 34 percent, while a majority of younger parents and teens opposed the policy.
It said overwhelming majorities of parents, teens and members of the Scouting community felt it would be unacceptable to deny an openly gay Scout an Eagle Scout award solely because of his sexual orientation.
Included in the survey were dozens of churches and other religious organizations, which sponsor a majority of Scout units. Many expressed concern about having gay adult leaders but were less concerned about gay youth members.
Many Scout units are sponsored by relatively conservative denominations that have supported the ban on gays in the past — notably the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Southern Baptist churches.
Local Scout councils said 51 percent of their major donors opposed easing the ban, while a majority of Fortune 500 companies supported a change.
The Associated Press
Where they are at this juncture is a big step forward in terms of the boys. We certainly applaud this step, but it's not far enough.”
Scott J. Hamilton,
Cimarron Alliance executive director