Despite concerns about churches possibly dropping their association with Boy Scouts of America because of a new policy allowing gay Scouts, a local scout executive said it was too early to know the impact on area scout troops.
David Page, scout executive and CEO of the BSA Sequoyah Council, said Thursday charter partners change and drop units every year for a variety of reasons. He said chartered members, including faith-based organizations, have the right to pull their association from the Boy Scouts.
He said council leaders will know closer to December as to how many of those organizations decide to pull their ties from scouting and their reasons for doing so.
The Sequoyah Council opposed the policy change approved by the BSA National Council on May 23 but will implement the new policy effective Jan. 1. The new membership policy states that “No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.”
“Our policies are the national policies,” Page said. “We do not set a membership policy here in the council. We are chartered by the national organization. We implement national policy.
“When we’re engaging in communicating with potential charter partners, we just simply spell out the policy and it’s for them to choose whether or not they want ... the charter of a Boy Scout unit,” Page said. “We want to be proactive and provide scouting as a fundamental youth character development program for all young people.”
The Associated Press reported that the Southern Baptist Convention approved a resolution Wednesday expressing its disappointment in the BSA’s new policy. The resolution calls on the Boy Scouts “to remove executive and board leaders who tried to allow gays as both members and leaders without consulting the many religious groups that sponsor Scout troops.”
The resolution from the SBC did not recommend that Southern Baptists drop their scouting programs, but it did support churches and families that chose to do so because of the new policy, and even encouraged individuals to try to reverse the new membership policy.
“I have the deepest respect for the Southern Baptist Convention and it’s churches that use scouting in their youth ministries,” Page said. “Scouting youth member policy is not about the BSA condoning homosexuality or forcing its charter organizations to do the same. I want to make that clear.
“Our change allows scouting to be more compassionate in its response to ... a young person who has expressed a same-sex attraction.”
He said the organization prohibits any sexual conduct or activity, whether heterosexual or homosexual, in its scouting programs. He said the organization requires all members to demonstrate behavior that exemplifies the highest level of good conduct and respect for others.