(Photo: REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)
Boy Scouts of America announced Tuesday that it will not be changing its membership standards to allow openly gay persons.
After a two-year long examination, the group said it "remains in the best interest of Scouting" to keep its 102-year-old membership policy as is.
"Scouting believes that good people can personally disagree on this topic and still work together to achieve the life-changing benefits to youth through Scouting. While not all Board members may personally agree with this policy, and may choose a different direction for their own organizations, BSA leadership agrees this is the best policy for the organization and supports it for the BSA," said the executive committee of the BSA National Executive Board.
Boy Scouts has been petitioned in recent years to reconsider its policy prohibiting openly gay persons from being members, volunteers or leaders.
Joining the protest earlier this year was an Eagle Scout, Zach Wahls, who has two lesbian mothers. Wahls had delivered more than 275,000 petitions asking BSA to start accepting open homosexuals.
"I refuse to stand by idly as it (Boy Scouts) forfeits its cultural relevancy at the very moment this country needs it most," he stated at the time.
BSA began reviewing its policy in 2010. A special committee, which included a diversity of perspectives and opinions, was convened to evaluate the policy and determine whether it should be continued.
After "extensive research" and "candid conversation," the committee concluded that the policy "reflects the beliefs and perspectives of the BSA's members, thereby allowing Scouting to remain focused on its mission and the work it is doing to serve more youth."
Bob Mazzuca, chief scout executive of Boy Scouts of America," commented, "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. While a majority of our membership agrees with our policy, we fully understand that no single policy will accommodate the many diverse views among our membership or society."
Boy Scouts of America claims to be one of the nation's largest and most prominent values-based youth development organizations.
Last year, more than 2.7 million youth members and more than 1 million volunteers performed service projects that included food collection and distribution, litter cleanup and conservation projects.
Also in 2011, nearly 1.1 million youth attended a council camp or national high-adventure camp and more than 51,000 youth earned the rank of Eagle Scout.