Boy Scouts Reaffirm Policy of Excluding Gays

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Byline: David Crary Associated Press By David Crary Associated Press -CLMN-

NEW YORK -- After a confidential two-year review, the Boy Scouts of America on Tuesday emphatically reaffirmed its policy of excluding gays, angering critics who hoped relentless protest campaigns might lead to change.

The Scouts cited support from parents as a key reason for keeping the policy and expressed hope the prolonged debate over it might now subside. Bitter reactions from gay-rights activists suggested that result was unlikely.

Matt Thornton, acting scout executive for the Northwest Suburban Council, had no comment on the policy, but said national policies have to be followed by the regional councils around the nation. Both Thorton and Nancy Loftus, Three Fires Council marketing and communications director, referred all media queries to the national Boy Scouts of America organization. The Northwest Suburban Council is based in Mount Prospect, and the Three Fires Council is based in St. Charles.

The Scouts' national spokesman, Deron Smith, told The Associated Press an 11-member special committee, formed discreetly by top Scout leaders in 2010, came to the conclusion the exclusion policy "is absolutely the best policy" for the 112-year-old organization.

Smith said the committee, comprised of professional scout executives and adult volunteers, was unanimous in its conclusion -- preserving a long-standing policy that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000 and remains controversial.

As a result of the committee's decision, the Scouts' national executive board will take no further action on a resolution submitted at its recent national conference asking for reconsideration of the policy.

The Scouts' chief executive, Bob Mazzuca, contended most Scout families support the policy, which applies to both adult leaders and Scouts.

"The vast majority of the parents of youth we serve value their right to address issues of same-sex orientation within their family, with spiritual advisers and at the appropriate time and in the right setting," Mazzuca said. "We fully understand that no single policy will accommodate the many diverse views among our membership or society."

The president of the largest U.S. gay-rights group, Chad Griffin of the Human Rights Campaign, depicted the Scouts' decision as "a missed opportunity of colossal proportions."

"With the country moving toward inclusion, the leaders of the Boy Scouts of America have instead sent a message to young people that only some of them are valued," he said. "They've chosen to teach division and intolerance."

Darlene Nipper, deputy executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said the Scouts "have turned their backs on a chance to demonstrate fairness, exercise sound judgment, and serve as a role model for valuing others. …