Thursday, June 14, 2012

Boy Scouts Board Member Wants End To Gay Ban

The chairman and CEO of Ernst & Young and a board member of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has become the latest voice to speak out against the organization's ban on gay members.

According to a report in Reuters, Jim Turley said that he plans to "work from within" to help change the policy that prohibits gays from being members or leaders of one of the nation's largest youth organizations.

"I support the meaningful work of the Boy Scouts in preparing young people for adventure, leadership, learning and service. However, the membership policy is not one I would personally endorse," he said.

Turley's statement comes at a time when there is growing calls for BSA to end its long-standing policy. A petition on -- started by Jennifer Tyrell, a former den leader who was ousted when it was revealed she was a lesbian -- has already been signed by 275,000 people. The petition also calls for Tyrell to be reinstated into the organization.

"We are at a tipping point, with national leaders within the Boy Scouts now taking a firm stand to help end discrimination," Tyrrell said in a statement issued by

One of those leaders Tyrell mentioned was Turley and, to a lesser extent, Randal Stephenson, another BSA board member and CEO of telecommunications giant AT&T. Stephenson said in a statement that he favors diversity, but would not make an outright call for the policy to end.

"We don't agree with every policy of every organization we support, nor would we expect them to agree with us on everything. Our belief is that change at any organization must come from within to be successful and sustainable."

So far, BSA has mostly resisted calls to change its policy. In a statement Wednesday, the organization reiterated that, while it respects the views of its board members, it has no plans to back down on this issue. The group said in an earlier statement that "While the BSA does not proactively inquire about sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or members, we do not grant membership to individuals who are open or avowed homosexuals or who engage in behavior that would become a distraction to the mission of the BSA."

Founded in 1910, BSA won a 2000 Supreme Court decision 5-4 that allowed the organization to ban gays, on the argument that they violated its values. The organization reported that it had 1 million adult volunteers at the end of 2011.

You can read the full story in Reuters.

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