The Boy Scouts of America is considering ending its policy prohibiting gays from joining the organization.
The group made the announcement Monday in a statement on its website:
"Scouting has always been in an ongoing dialogue ... to determine what is in the best interest of the organization and the young people we serve.
"Currently, the BSA is discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation."
The new policy would allow local organizations to decide for themselves if they want to allow gay members or not. The policy would apply to both youth scouts and adult scout leaders.
The Boy Scouts was founded in 1910 and said it currently serves about 2.7 million youths—including about 13,000 in New Hampshire.
The Boy Scouts' New Hampshire chapter is the Daniel Webster Council. Greg Osborn, a spokesman for the council, said its leadership was just learning about the potential policy change Monday and couldn't immediately comment on it.
"We're hearing about this at the same time as everyone else," said Osborn. "Our focus remains on providing a great program for kids."
Below is the Boy Scouts' full statement:
“For more than 100 years, Scouting’s focus has been on working together to deliver the nation’s foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training. Scouting has always been in an ongoing dialogue with the Scouting family to determine what is in the best interest of the organization and the young people we serve.
“Currently, the BSA is discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation. This would mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation, and the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with each organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs. BSA members and parents would be able to choose a local unit that best meets the needs of their families.
“The policy change under discussion would allow the religious, civic, or educational organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting to determine how to address this issue. The Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents. Under this proposed policy, the BSA would not require any chartered organization to act in ways inconsistent with that organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs.”