| » Reactions to Boy Scouts decision
| » Redlands den responds to BSA announcement

NEW YORK - The Boys Scouts of America is considering a dramatic change in its controversial policy of excluding gays as leaders and youth members.

Under the change being considered, the different religious and civic groups that sponsor Scout units would be able to decide for themselves how to address the issue - either maintaining an exclusion of gays or opening up their membership.

The announcement of the possible change came Monday after years of protests over the policy - including petition campaigns that have prompted some corporations to suspend donations to the Boy Scouts.

Under the proposed change, said BSA spokesman Deron Smith, "the Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents."

In Southern California, a month after the Boy Scouts of America reaffirmed its stance against homosexuality within its ranks, the board of Redlands Pack 24 voted to take a stand against the national organization by sending a letter to BSA stating that Pack 24 would not exclude anyone on the basis of sexual orientation.

Cubmaster James Rich said the majority of families in the pack shared his position: let's not discriminate, but let's welcome everyone with open arms.

"I didn't think I could continue as cubmaster until I knew our club was against (the BSA's stance)," he said in August. "So I asked our pack to have a meeting to discuss openly the pros and cons. If I was in the minority, I would step down. But at the meeting, I was not in the minority. I was in the majority.

"So we decided to move forward from there," he added.

The small town's decision became national news, however, and the letter became unnecessary. It was never sent.

Since July, when the Boy Scouts of America reaffirmed its stance on gays, the organization has experienced its fair share of fallout and support with the news.