After a confidential two-year review, the Boy Scouts of America on Tuesday emphatically reaffirmed its policy of excluding gays, angering critics who hoped that relentless protest campaigns might lead to change.

The Scouts cited support from parents as a key reason for keeping the policy and expressed hope that the prolonged debate over it might now subside. Bitter reactions from gay-rights activists suggested that result was unlikely.

The Scouts’ national spokesman, Deron Smith, told The Associated Press that an 11-member special committee, formed discreetly by top Scout leaders in 2010, came to the conclusion that the exclusion policy “is absolutely the best policy” for the 112-year-old organization.

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