Boy Scouts' Image After Allowing Openly Gay Youth Members

5:51 PM, May 23, 2013   |    comments
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Piedmont Triad, NC -- The Boy Scouts of America decided Thursday to allow openly-gay youth members.

More than 14,000 leaders of the organization are in Grapevine, Texas for a two-day meeting that included a vote on the policy.

This week, people for and against the scouts' ban have rallied across the country on the controversial issue.

Three of the four delegates from the North State Council, based out of Greensboro, voted against the policy change; while one voted for allowing openly-gay members, according to the local chapter.

In Winston-Salem, the Old Hickory Council sent three delegates to vote on the chapter's behalf.

All three cast votes against lifting the gay ban, according to the scout executive.

The delegates' votes reflect recent surveys in which approximately 70 percent of constituents of the two Triad councils indicated they want the ban on gay members to remain.

Michael Usey, an assistant scout leader on the Old North State Council, told WFMY News 2 he expected fallout regardless of the final national decision.

"There will be a lot of kids that won't go into scouting one way or the other because they put it up for a vote,' Reverend Michael Usey said of the gay policy. "One way or another there will be kids and families that won't be comfortable with scouts anymore."

The policy discussion comes less than a year after the Boy Scouts went through a sexual abuse scandal; the organization revealed in October 2012 that there were 5,000 instances of sexual abuse of scouts in the 1980s.

Some former troop leaders from the Triad were named in the report.

Coupled with the discussions over whether it's time for a cultural shift in the organization, Usey says he believes the brand of the Scouts has been somewhat tarnished.

"We move on from there by continuing to focus on our primary mission - which is - how can we help young boys develop the leadership that they are going to need in their everyday lives to survive and thrive," he said.

Steven Wilburn, the scout executive of the Old Hickory Council says in the end, he believes, the constituents will come together and focus on the organization's core values.

"I think in scouting, especially, one of the things that we teach is respect of others opinions and thoughts and ideas, and I'm hopeful that we will be able to focus on the thing that unites all of us, which of course is serving our young people."

Wilburn says the policy change will into effect January 2014.

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