NEW YORK -- Under pressure over its long-standing ban on gays, the Boys Scouts of America is proposing to lift the ban for youth members but continue to exclude gays as adult leaders.
The Scouts announced Friday that the proposal would be submitted to the roughly 1,400 voting members of its National Council at a meeting in Texas the week of May 20.
Gay-rights groups have demanded a complete lifting of the ban, while some churches and conservative groups want it maintained in its entirety, raising the likelihood that the new proposal will draw continued criticism from both sides.
Indeed, the BSA, in making its announcement, estimated that easing the ban on gay adults could cause widespread defections that cost the organization 100,000 to 350,000 members.
In January, the BSA said it was considering a plan to give local Scout units the option of admitting gays as both youth members and adult leaders or continuing to exclude them.
On Friday, the BSA said it changed course in part because of surveys sent out starting in February to about 1 million members of the Scouting community.
The review, said a BSA statement, "created an outpouring of feedback" from 200,000 respondents, some supporting the exclusion policy and others favoring a change.