The recent—and very public—debate by the Boy Scouts about possibly lifting its ban on gay members was sparked by a leak from inside the organization, BSA leaders have confirmed to the New York Times.
While the Scouts had begun internal conversations, the debate was never intended to be opened to the public. But comments from an unnamed insider, reported in the press at the end of January, created “an impression that change was imminent,” according to the Times. As a result, groups on both sides of the issue started applying pressure, and the BSA announced it was accepting input.
“We are amazingly sorry with the fact that this got out and got ahead of us,” said Tico A. Perez, scouting’s national commissioner, at a town hall meeting on Tuesday. “Someone leaked the information, [who] either didn’t like what we were doing, or they thought they were going to be helpful to the conversation.
“…It gave the impression, No. 1, that we were driving something to a vote, which we were not trying to do — we were trying to start a conversation,” Perez said. “And, No. 2, that we were doing something that we were going to spring on the board.”
The source of the leak is unknown, but according to spokesman Deron Smith, the BSA isn’t interested in tracking them down: “Identifying that person or understanding their motivation isn’t our focus,” said Smith.
In the end, the Scouts decided to delay an answer on the ban until May, when the National Council convenes. While the leak may have rushed the debate, it’s also given pro-equality forces the foreknowledge to rally the troops.
“We’ve just been able to really focus and strategize on this for, what, two months?” Scouts for Equality’s Zach Wahls told Queerty. “We’re just getting started.”