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Boy Scouts reaffirms ban on gays. Is it out of step with the times? (+video)

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Further, the statement, which did not identify the panel members, said, "the review included forthright and candid conversation and extensive research and evaluations – both from within Scouting and from outside of the organization."

But group members say the move flies in the face of the organization’s own stated values.

“It is reprehensible that BSA would exclude gays,” says Michael Reinemer, a current Scout leader and former Boy Scout who lives in Annandale, Va. While the Boy Scouts is a private organization, he says, “it is also an American institution that develops character. Its highest level of leadership training (Wood Badge) requires involvement in bringing diversity to your scout unit.”

While the Boy Scouts may have the right to discriminate, the public also has the right to choose other options for young boys, says Professor Cohen, adding, “as each successive public opinion poll shows, Americans are not comfortable with bigotry against lesbian and gay individuals. Continuing this policy is a recipe for the Boy Scouts to wither away and be remembered as a bigoted organization that refused to change with the times.”

The BSA, however, said support from parents was an important reason for keeping the policy.

"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," Boy Scouts chief executive Bob Mazzuca said in a statement.

"We fully understand that no single policy will accommodate the many diverse views among our membership or society."

The BSA leadership, however, has grown more conservative and does not fully reflect the larger membership, says Northwestern University law professor Andrew Koppelman.

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