A leak from inside the Boy Scouts of America last month about discussions on possibly ending the group’s national ban on gay members changed the debate itself by creating an impression that change was imminent, according to scouting officials and taped comments from a meeting of scouting’s executive board obtained by The New York Times.
Those apparently false expectations were dashed days later when the board, under intense scrutiny it had never intended, deferred action.
The proposed shift in policy has been portrayed in news accounts mostly as a kind of trial balloon, floated to gauge sentiment about where scouting might go on a hugely divisive question. But the proposal, though seriously in consideration, was not supposed to become public at this moment, Scouts officials confirmed. The plan for the meeting this week was a quiet discussion behind closed doors, they said, free from the outside pressures that have buffeted scouting, especially since summer, when the organization reaffirmed its ban on gay scouts and leaders after a two-year review.
Instead, the exact opposite of quiet deliberation broke loose with a fury on Jan. 28, when word of the proposed change was confirmed in a statement from Boy Scouts headquarters, followed by further reverberations this week when the Boy Scouts said the decision would be deferred until the annual national meeting in May. Groups on both sides said on Friday that the three-month window to marshal their forces and tactics in influencing opinion inside and outside scouting would be exploited with gusto. Without the leak, and the expectations about sudden change that arose as a result, there would not have been a window at all.
“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 with about 250 staff members and volunteers with the Boy Scouts of America, including the executive board. A recording of Mr. Perez’s comments, made by someone at the meeting, was obtained by The Times.
“Someone leaked the information,” Mr. Perez said on the tape, someone who “either didn’t like what we were doing, or they thought they were going to be helpful to the conversation.”"
The New York Times, “Boy Scouts Say Gay Debate Was Ignited By a Leak” (via inothernews)