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In what has the appearance of a coordinated media effort to pressure the Boy Scouts of America, a private organization, to change its membership policy and allow participation by open or avowed homosexuals, a slew of reports have been generated this week announcing the group is considering that idea.
The organization posted an online announcement today that “Contrary to media reports, the Boy Scouts of America has no plans to change its membership policy. The introduction of a resolution does not indicate the organization is ‘reviewing’ a policy or signal a change in direction.”
What happened this week was that pro-homosexual activists from the online petition organization change.org issued a press release claiming that unnamed “sources have confirmed Boy Scouts of America officials are considering a new policy for 2013 that would allow local charter organizations to decide whether or not to accept gay scouts and leaders.”
The press release from change.org also says that a petition WND reported on a few weeks ago regarding the reinstatement of a lesbian Scout leader Jennifer Tyrell was delivered to Darren Smith, public relations director for the Boy Scouts of America.
Smith told WND that because one individual delivered a resolution requesting a change in policy does not mean the request will go anywhere.
BSA has established procedures in place to review all proposals submitted by members regardless of the topic, and officials tell WND that this proposal is no different.
“The BSA policy is: ‘While the BSA does not proactively inquire about the sexual orientation of employees, volunteers, or members, we do 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,'” the group said.
The change.org statement has proclaimed, “PRESS RELEASE-BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA OFFICIALS PROPOSE ALLOWING LOCAL TROOPS TO ACCEPT GAY YOUTH AND LEADERS AFTER EAGLE SCOUT DELIVERS 275,000 PETITIONS AT NATIONAL ANNUAL MEETING.”
A multitude of recent media reports have echoed the statement.
Calls to change.org confirmed that the organization did issue the press release, but the media contact, Mike Jones, was unavailable to comment on the Boy Scouts’ assertion that the information in the release is false.
The “unnamed sources” cited by change.org remain a mystery, since the Boy Scouts tell WND that there are no plans to change the policy just because a procedure is in place to accept and review proposals.
The Boy Scouts clarified for WND that one individual did submit a resolution “asking the Boy Scouts to consider amending its policy on not granting membership to open or avowed homosexuals.”
“The resolution asked that the policy be amended to allow local units to determine their own standards,” the organization said.
Smith said resolutions on this topic have been proposed since the 2000 Supreme Court decision affirming the Boy Scouts have the right to restrict membership.
“Those resolutions were handled in the same manner,” he said.
“Scouting’s voting members may submit resolutions, which represent that individual’s personal viewpoint, for consideration at the national annual business meeting.”
Smith explains that a resolution committee reviews these individual proposals, and presents a report to the National Executive Board.
WND was told the plans to consider changing policy simply don’t exist.
But that hasn’t stopped media outlets from widely reporting on the change.org press release as fact, with Fox News running the headline, “Boy Scouts to review ban on gays,” over a story reporting that the Boy Scouts will review the policy, but failing to mention the BSA assertion that the organization simply is following an established procedure for all proposed resolutions.
Instead the Fox News story quotes Scout member Zach Wahls, who was raised by lesbian mothers and speaks out on “gay” issues as saying, “Up to the day they end this policy, they’ll be saying they have no plans to do so.”
The report goes on to reveal Wahl’s plans to organize support to build pressure on the Boy Scouts.
GLAAD also features a story touting the change.org press release as “getting the attention” of the Boy Scouts of America, because of the success of the online petition campaign.
ABC News also featured the headline “Boy Scouts to Consider Opening Organization to Gays.”
Few media outlets have reported the facts as outlined by the Boy Scouts of America, instead offering sensational headlines without the support of fact.
On the BSA Facebook page, supporters are asked to read the clarification regarding the media reports, with many taking the time to comment on both sides of the issue.
Many of the organization’s supporters are encouraging the BSA to remain true to its heritage, with one fan summing it up like this: “Give into one group and eventually you will have to give in to all.”
It was in 2000 that the U.S. Supreme Court concluded that the organization is private, and it is allowed to bar homosexuals from being troop leaders.
The 5-4 decision overturned a ruling from New Jersey that said the dismissal of a homosexual Scout leader was illegal under the state’s anti-discrimination laws.
Forcing someone else’s beliefs on the organization would be a violation of the organization’s right to freedom of association and free speech under the First Amendment.
The case was launched by James Dale, who wanted to become a Scout leader, telling him his homosexuality was contrary to the organization’s core values.