The Boy Scouts of America will vote on a resolution to partially rescind its ban on openly gay Scouts at a meeting in Texas on May 20. The wording of the proposed policy change is direct. It states that no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America “on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.”
A ban would continue on leadership roles for adults who are openly gay or lesbian.
Proponents of the policy change say the Scouts now have an opportunity to include a group of youngsters who have long been excluded from joining the organization. Critics, however, argue the current policy should remain unchanged.
Clif Morris, an executive of the West Tennessee Boy Scout Council, told the Associated Press last week that surveys show that around 90 percent of his local members either totally support or somewhat support the current position. His group is one of two Boy Scouts councils in Tennessee that have already said they will not support a proposal to change the group’s long-standing exclusion of gays.
Officials with the Nashville-based Middle Tennessee Council of the Boy Scouts also pledge to support the current membership policy at the Boy Scouts of America’s annual meeting next week. Hugh Travis, scout executive for the Middle Tennessee Council, said surveys show the council’s parents and leaders believe the current membership policy is a “core value of the Scout Oath and Law.”
The debate on the policy change vote is certain to be emotional and heated. Recently, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said allowing openly gay members to join would erode the foundation of the Boy Scouts.
“Scouting has for over a century now been the real bedrock of values and traditions and developer of men,” he said. “Their values and principles have worked for a century now, and for pop culture to come in and try to tear that up because it just happens to be the flavor of the month, so to speak, and to tear apart one of the great organizations that has served millions of young men, helped them to become men and to become great fathers — that is just not appropriate.”
Meanwhile, some supporters of the policy change believe Boy Scouts should go even farther. Dave McGrath, 48, and his son Joseph, 21, are cycling 1,800 miles from their home in Idaho to Irving, Texas, (the headquarters of the Boy Scouts) to protest against the continued ban of gay adult leaders in the organization.
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