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Boy Scouts To Review Ban On Gays; No Change Imminent

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Boy scouts trade patches July 31, 2001 during the 15th National Scout Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill, Va. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Boy scouts trade patches July 31, 2001 during the 15th National Scout Jamboree at Fort A.P. Hill, Va. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

NEW YORK — The Boy Scouts of America will review a resolution that would allow individual units to accept gays as adult leaders, but a spokesman says there's no expectation that the ban on gay leaders will in fact be lifted any time soon.

The resolution was submitted by a Scout leader from the Northeast in April and presented last week at the Scouts' national meeting in Orlando, Fla., according to BSA spokesman Deron Smith.

Smith said Wednesday it would be referred to a subcommittee, which will then make a recommendation to the national executive board. The process would likely be completed by May 2013, according to Smith, who said there were no plans at this time to change the policy.

During last week's meeting, the Scouts were presented with a petition, bearing more than 275,000 names, protesting the ouster of a lesbian mother, Jennifer Tyrrell, who'd been serving as a Scout den mother near Bridgeport, Ohio.

Among those who presented the Change.org petition, and met with Scout officials, was Eagle Scout Zach Wahls, an Iowa college student who was raised by lesbian mothers.

Wahls, in a telephone interview, said he and his allies planned a campaign to mobilize opposition to the gay-exclusion policy from within Scout ranks, with the goal of building pressure for the resolution to be approved.

"Up to the day they end this policy, they'll be saying they have no plans to do so," Wahls said. "But there's no question it's costing the Boy Scouts in terms of membership and public support."

The Scouts, who celebrated their 100th anniversary in 2010, have had a long-standing policy of excluding gays and atheists. Controversy over the policy intensified in 2000 when the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the Scouts to maintain the policy in the face of a legal challenge.

Leaders of several regional scouting councils have asked for the policy to be scrapped or modified, to no avail.

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