The Boy Scouts of America (BSA), one of the largest private youth organizations in the United States, has policies which prohibit atheists, agnostics and, until January 2014, prohibited all "open or avowed" homosexuals, from membership in its Scouting program. The ban on "open or avowed" homosexual adults from membership remains in effect. BSA has denied or revoked membership status or leadership positions for violation of these foundational principles. The BSA contends that its policies are essential in its mission to instill in young people the values of the Scout Oath and Law.
The organization's legal right to have these policies has been upheld repeatedly by both state and federal courts. In Boy Scouts of America v. Dale, the Supreme Court of the United States has affirmed that as a private organization, the BSA can set its own membership standards. The BSA's policies have been legally challenged but have not been found to constitute illegal discrimination because as a private organization in the United States, the BSA has the right to freedom of association, as determined in the court case. In recent years, the policy disputes have led to litigation over the terms under which the BSA can access governmental resources, including public lands.
These policies have led to various disputes and controversies. In 2012, both Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and then President Barack Obama stated that they opposed the ban on gay Scouts. On May 23, 2013, the BSA's National Council approved a resolution to remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone effective January 1, 2014. The policy for adult leaders remains in place: "[BSA does] not grant membership to [adults] who are open or avowed homosexuals".