This afternoon the Boy Scouts of America announced that they are “actively considering” dropping the ban on “openly gay” scouts and leaders.

Via GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation): (emphasis added)

BSA spokesperson Deron Smith released the following statement announcing the potential policy change:

‘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.’

Obviously such a change would be a good thing for LGBT equality. From the above BSA statement, however, it sounds as if unlike the existing ban, which is a national level policy which has been largely enforced, the change would not be a “must,” but a chapter level decision. It’s certainly still a change for the better, but not a full-fledged support of equality.

Among others, GLAAD has actively worked to have the ban removed. Others involved in the advocacy efforts are Scouts for Equality, and at Change.org, petitions “signed by more than 1.2 million people calling for an end to the BSA’s ban on gay scouts and scout leaders.”

The Advocate adds this:

After intense backlash, the national Boy Scouts organization is finally considering dropping their ban on openly gay scouts and leaders, according to NBC News. …

The organization has dug in its heels lately, declaring in July that it would not rescind its ban. It also successfully pressured a Maryland troop, via the Washington, D.C. umbrella troop organization, to remove a pro-gay nondiscrimination policy from its website.

But it’s troops like the one in Maryland that may get the national organization to change the policy … which was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2000. Aside from local groups, both corporations and President Obama have told the Scouts that the ban should end.

Advocacy at every level is vital, but as The Advocate notes, local troop actions are essential. Corporations and Electeds deserve credit when they step up, so good for them, including Mr. Obama. Such stepping up, of course, almost always means they’re following the leadership of grassroots activists.

(Boy Scouts May Lift Ban via GLAAD)