Online Petition Spurs Boy Scouts to Review Long-Standing No-Gays Policy (UPDATE)

A Change.org petition signed by over 290,000 people has apparently persuaded the Boy Scouts of America to launch a review of its controversial Supreme Court-backed ban on openly gay troop leaders and scouts.

Eagle Scout and noted LGBT activist Zach Wahls, who rose to fame following an impassioned testimony he delivered before the Iowa House Judiciary Committee in support of same-sex marriage, hand-delivered the petition to Scout officials at last week's national meeting in Florida.

In addition to calling for an end to the Scouts' anti-gay policy, the petition also demanded the reinstatement of den mother Jennifer Tyrrell who was removed from her Ohio troop when the local district council found out she was a lesbian.

Though the Scouts have agreed to review a proposal to lift the ban, a spokesman for the organization tried to temper expectations by saying that the status quo will remain in place for the time being. "Up to the day they end this policy, they'll be saying they have no plans to do so," Wahls told the Associated Press. "But there's no question it's costing the Boy Scouts in terms of membership and public support."

In order for the resolution to reach the national executive board it must first pass through a subcommittee — a process that could take up to a year.

UPDATE: BSA Director of PR Deron Smith writes in with the following clarification:

The BSA's decision to accept the petition from Zach Wahls was not related to resolution.

Scouting's voting members may submit resolutions for consideration at the business meeting. As is consistently with our policy, the deadline for submitting resolutions this year was April 30. We were not contacted about the delivery of the petition until May 28. (The resolution was submitted by the deadline and not influenced by our meeting.)

Resolutions and petitions on this matter are not unique and go back as far as 2000, when the U.S. Supreme Court reviewed this matter. As a matter of procedure, resolutions are submitted in advance of the business meeting. They are read and assigned to the appropriate committees for review.

Each committee reviews the matter and makes a recommendation at the next business meeting. While we'll carefully review this resolution, there are no plans to change the policy.

[photo via GLAAD]