Boy scouts may soon welcome gay leaders, youth members

New policy would allow groups that sponsor scouts to decide how to address the issue

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NEW YORK - The Boys Scouts of America is considering a dramatic change in its controversial policy of excluding gays as leaders and youth members.

Under the change being considered, the different religious and civic groups that sponsor Scout units would be able to decide for themselves how to address the issue -- either maintaining an exclusion of gays or opening up their membership.

The announcement of the possible change came Monday after years of protests over the policy -- including petition campaigns that have prompted some corporations to suspend donations to the Boy Scouts.

Under the proposed change, said BSA spokesman Deron Smith, "the Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents."

On Monday afternoon, Local 10's Janine Stanwood contacted the South Florida Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

John Anthony, the head of the South Florida Council, told her that the proposal will be sent to the national committee next week for a vote. The change is partly the result of a internal scout polling. Last year, members and parents were asked what they thought about the ban, among other issues.

Anthony says if the proposal passes and the ban is lifted, it's still up to each troop whether they want to allow gays or not. He said the South Florida Council cannot voice an opinion on the matter on the record.

Local 10 also received an e-mail from Dusty Melton an Eagle Scout and county lobbyist.

He said what is being proposed is "Unacceptable. The policy must not be subject to local whims. The policy must be universal and national, and it must end all discrimination on any basis whatsoever."

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