PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) – The Boys Scouts of America is considering a dramatic change in its controversial policy of excluding gays as leaders and youth members.

Under the change 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.

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.

The change could open the door for many boys and adult leaders who up until now couldn’t really consider joining the Boy Scouts.

Many locals were happy about the announcement.

“We’re really excited to see that the Boy Scouts, you know, an organization that has really reached out to youth and trained youth, to really look at the policy of discrimination as it relates to somebody’s sexual orientation,” said Gary Van Horn with the Delta Foundation.

“Yeah, I think that’s a good idea,” Michelle Demaglio of Plum said. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.”

But not everyone agrees with the potential policy change.

“I’m a Christian, so I’m completely against gay, so I would not be comfortable with that,” Tamyra Clemments of Atlanta, Ga. said.

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.”

The Boy Scouts say they’ve offered programs to children based off of conversations with family.

But the organization’s decision not to change their policy might be just as controversial as possibly changing it and 2013 reflects ongoing conversations that may just take the Boy Scouts in a whole new direction.

“I think people’s hearts and minds are changed,” Van Horn said. “And obviously the Boy Scouts are probably getting some pressure from corporate funders, etc. that are saying this is not the policy of inclusiveness.”

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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