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Boy Scouts leaders defend policy banning openly gay members

The organization — whose mission is to instill young people with moral values — says its policy banning openly gay members is "absolutely the best."

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Two boy scouts carry water containers at the 15th National Scout Jamboree held at Fort A.P. Hill, VA, in 2001. (Alex Wong/AFP/Getty Images)

The Boy Scouts of America says that their policy banning openly gay members is "absolutely the best" for the organization, The Associated Press reports.

The quote belongs to the Boy Scouts' national spokesman, Deron Smith, who told AP today that an 11-member committee who undertook a confidential two-year review of the policy were unanimous in their decision to assert the rule against openly gay leaders and scouts. The policy, which the Supreme Court found in a 2000 opinion it could not challenge, has long been a source of dispute by rights groups and individuals — like Jennifer Tyrrell, a mother and Cub Scout leader whose membership was revoked because she is gay — incensed by the discriminatory measure.

In a statement last month, the Boy Scouts clarified the policy, stating: "While the BSA does not proactively inquire about the 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."

The Boy Scouts' mission is to "prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout Oath and Law," codes that reinforce developing qualities like honor, loyalty and kindness.

ThinkProgress notes that the enduring policy appears especially antiquated in light of the non-discriminatory policies of most other major national youth groups and the US military's 2011 decision to allow openly gay service members.

Indeed, the Boy Scouts appear well behind the military — Slate published a story today profiling two servicemen who they report are the first gay couple to wed on a military base.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/culture-lifestyle/120717/boy-scouts-leaders-defend-policy-banning-openly-gay-members