Confidential Review Upholds Boy Scout Policy Banning Gays

Despite both external and internal pressures, organization upholds 102-year-old ban on homosexuals.

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Eric Jones, a 19-year-old from Missouri, was fired from his counselor job at a Boy Scout camp Sunday after admitting that he was gay. He had participated in the Boy Scouts for nearly a decade, working his way up to the Eagle Scouts. "I thought it was time to have my life of scouting and my other life come together," he told the New York Daily News of his decision to come out.

Jones said his camp director told him that he deserved to be at the camp, but had to follow the Boy Scout policy that prohibits homosexuals from being both members and leaders.

Unfortunately for Jones, The Boy Scouts of America announced Tuesday that they would not be changing this policy. The organization's ruling comes at the conclusion of a two-year review by a confidential panel made up of Scout executives and volunteers on the 102-year-old policy. According to a statement given to the Associated Press, the panel relied on research from both inside and outside the Scouts.

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"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," said Boy Scouts of America chief executive Bob Mazzuca of the decision to uphold the policy. "We fully understand that no single policy will accommodate the many diverse views among our membership or society."

Both outside gay rights groups and internal members have criticized the policy, which was protected by a 2000 Supreme Court decision. Recently, national executive board members James Turley, CEO of Ernst & Young, and Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T, both said they intended to work from within the Boy Scouts to change the policy. Both of their companies are known for their gay-friendly environments.

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Efforts to change the policy are unlikely to cease despite the review. A Change.org online petition with more than 300,000 signatures is expected to be delivered Wednesday to the Boy Scouts headquarters in Irving, Texas. The petition calls for the organization to reinstate a Scout den mother who was expelled for being a lesbian, in addition to changing the policy at large. Jones will discuss his own ousting in an upcoming documentary, entitled Second Class Citizens.