Boy Scouts Accepting Gay Members Starting Jan. 1

10:27 PM, Dec 31, 2013   |    comments
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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Starting January 1st, an historic change will take place for the Boy Scouts of America. They'll start accepting openly gay members. It's a policy change that's attracted a lot of attention.

The CEO of the Old North State Council, the local Boy Scout council, told WFMY News 2's Chad Silber that they've been preparing for months. Whether it was speaking with parents about the policy change, or clearing up misconceptions, they believe they're ready for this next chapter to begin.

"Our total vision is really to serve every eligible youth in the 8 counties that we serve in the Old North State Council and I truly believe that this policy kind of will allow us to serve more kids and focus on their development, and that's a good thing," said Old North State Council CEO Rodney Carpenter.

The shift in policy didn't come without controversy. When national BSA leaders approved the change in May, many families around the country cut ties with the scouts.

Local leaders admit their membership is down about 6% this year, but say that's not an uncommon shift in numbers. "The vast majority of the parents and volunteers and supporters I've talked to, quite honestly feel that kids are better off when they're in a scouting program," said Carpenter.

Another program is benefiting from the Boy Scouts fallout. Earlier this year, we told you about Trail Life USA. It's an organization much like the Boy Scouts, but they are very open about not allowing openly gay members.

 "There are very few people who are willing to step out and say this is who we are, this is who we believe and we're going to stand by that no matter how society moves or shifts," said Calvary Baptist Church Pastor Rob Peters.

Local Boy Scouts reps say they're taking a different approach, evolving with society. They say despite the slight drop in membership, they've welcomed many families that have signed up because of the change in policy.

The new rules only allow for openly gay youth members, not adult volunteers. The local council has about 10,000 youth members and 4,000 volunteers covering eight counties. It's the third largest council in the state.

WFMY News 2

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