- (Photo: REUTERS/David Manning)
Most Americans are in favor of the Boy Scouts of America lifting its ban on gay scouts and gay leaders within its organization, a new poll shows.
The Washington Post-ABC News poll posted on May 9 found that 63 percent of Americans support allowing gay scouts to join the organization, while 32 percent remain opposed. Fifty-six percent say the ban on gay adults serving as leaders should be lifted, while 39 percent of respondents agree with the current policy.
Among Protestants, 49 percent support the ban on gay scout leaders while 47 percent oppose it. A majority of Catholics (56 percent) favor lifting the ban.
The BSA's National Council is set to gather later in May to vote on their policies, with gay rights supporters saying it is time for the organization to allow both LGBT scouts and leaders, while family groups have insisted that BSA's century-old traditions should stand.
Dr. Richard Land, the outgoing president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and president-elect of Southern Evangelical Seminary, stated earlier that the BSA is "flirting with calamity" if it is considering a change to its principles.
"The Boy Scouts of America's proposed membership change is yet one more indication that our society is so concerned about the so-called rights and privileges of adults that it routinely fails to fulfill its societal obligation to protect children," said Land, who is also executive editor of The Christian Post.
The latest poll contrasts others that have suggested Americans hold much more divided views on the issue.
A November 2012 Gallup/USA Today poll found that 42 percent of respondents believe the BSA should change its policies and allow gay adults to serve as camp leaders. Fifty-two percent, however, said that the ban should stand.
BSA's current membership policy states that it "does not proactively inquire about the sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or members, but does 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."
Last July, the organization had voted to keep its policy after a two-year long examination, saying it "remains in the best interest of Scouting" to do so.
The Boy Scouts of America revisited the issue earlier this year and considered possibly allowing local chapters to make their own decisions on membership and leaders. It decided to delay until May its decision on whether to change its membership and leadership policy.
BSA conducted an internal "Voice of the Scout" survey and found that although there were shifting attitudes, a majority of those involved in the organization were still in favor of upholding the ban. Seventy-two percent of chartered organizations and 61 percent of Boy Scout parents support the current policy.
In response to the possible membership changes, a groups of parents, Scout Leaders, Scouting Donors, Eagle Scouts and other members of the Boy Scouts of America formed a nationwide coalition called OnMyHonor.Net.
In an open letter to the BSA's National Council, OnMyHonor.Net founder John Stemberger warned that a change in policy would not only rob parents of "the sole authority to raise issues of sex and sexuality with their kids" but also force every chartered Scouting unit, irrespective of religious convictions, to facilitate open homosexuality.
Of the over 100,000 Scouting units owned and operated by chartered organizations, 70.3 percent of all units are chartered to faith-based organizations.
The National Council of the Boy Scouts of America will hold its meeting in Texas on May 23. A proposal was unveiled last month that would allow openly gay members but not leaders.