The Boy Scouts of America is considering a change in their policy of excluding gays as leaders and youth members.
    
Under the new policy being considered, the different religious and civic groups that sponsor Scout units would be able to decide for themselves how to address the issue - either maintaining an exclusion of gays or opening up their membership.

A national board meeting is scheduled to be held on Feb. 4 to vote on the change, said Ray Franks, executive director of the East Carolina Council of the Boy Scouts of America, based in Kinston.

The announcement of the possible change came Monday, after years of protests over the policy - including petition campaigns that have prompted some corporations to suspend donations to the Boy Scouts.
    
Under the proposed change, said BSA spokesman Deron Smith, "the Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents."