By Marice Richter
GRAPEVINE, Texas (Reuters) - The Boy Scouts of America on Tuesday said the organization would continue to deny gay people membership, saying that the policy "is in the best interest of Scouting."
The decision is the result of a two-year evaluation by the organization prompted by repeated criticism, as well as support, for the policy, the organization said in a statement.
"The vast majority of the parents of youth we serve value their right to address issues of same-sex orientation within their family, with spiritual advisers, and at the appropriate time and in the right setting," said Bob Mazzuca, chief scout executive of Boy Scouts of America.
"While a majority of our membership agrees with our policy, we fully understand that no single policy will accommodate the many diverse views among our membership or society," he said.
The study, which began in 2010, was done by a committee of volunteers and professional leaders that reflected "a diversity of perspectives and opinions," the organization stated.
No further action will be taken on the matter, according to the statement.
The Boy Scouts of America in 2000 won a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing the organization to ban gays whose conduct, the Boy Scouts argued, violated its values.
A campaign against the ban has gathered momentum in the past year and a half, in part because of activism by Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout with two lesbian mothers, and Jennifer Tyrrell, a lesbian mother from Ohio who was ousted as a Scout den leader and treasurer in April because of the organization's policy.
Tyrrell is expected to deliver a petition to Boy Scouts of America's Irving, Texas, headquarters on Wednesday, urging the organization to reinstate her.
Jim Turley, chairman and chief executive officer of Ernst & Young and a Boy Scouts of America board member, has said he thinks the group should stop excluding gay people. Another Boy Scout board member, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, has said he favors diversity and supports the idea of change from within.
The Boy Scouts of America claimed more than 1 million adult volunteers at the end of 2011. It was founded in 1910 as part of the international Scout movement established in Britain by General Robert Baden-Powell.
(Editing by Corrie MacLaggan and Greg McCune; desking by Cynthia Osterman)