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Scouts' National Leadership Votes To Lift Gay Ban

11:25 PM, May 23, 2013   |    comments
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Grapevine, TX- The Boy Scouts of America have made their decision.

The Scouts' national leadership voted Thursday to allow openly-gay boys as scouts. 

About 1,400 national council members voted on whether to stop excluding youth scouts solely for being gay. The ban on gay adult leaders remains.

WFMY News 2's Morgan Hightower spoke with former Scouts and parents about the decision. 

"I think that the ban, honestly, I think it should stay in place because of the fact that, boy scouts or cub scouts has been this way for over 100 years and I don't see a reason why you should change it  now," explained Jeremy Koon. Koon's son used to be in Cub Scouts.

"I believe they are allowing the kids to be, do what they're interested in and feel accepted for who they are without feeling like they have to hide or judge or act a certain way in order to do something that they love," explained Chris Martin, Greensboro resident. "They can express themselves naturally or what they feel is natural for them and also be accepted in what they want to do."

"Personally, it doesn't really matter that much to me but I think it's a good thing in a way just because if you are gay, and you do want to be in the Boy Scouts, I don't think that we should be the ones to tell you that you can't do it," said Nolan Carter, a former Boy Scout.

"I don't agree with it because it gives the boys a mixed message and men are supposed to be men, they aren't supposed to be dating one another," said one Greensboro resident. "I don't really agree with it."

61% of the voting BSA council members voted in favor of lifting this ban however, the Triad delegation voted against it.

READ: Boy Scouts' Image After Allowing Openly Gay Youth Members

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.

In some cases, conservative churches that sponsor Scout units have threatened to defect because of this decision. On the other hand, some liberal scout leaders would like to see the ban on gay leaders lifted as well.

Below is a statement from Steve Wilburn, Chief Executive, Old Hickory Council, Boy Scouts of America.

"We know that this decision will not satisfy everyone in the eight counties of the Old Hickory Council.  However, our area is blessed with thousands of wonderful adult volunteers who are dedicated to providing youth with the very best Scouting experience.  Others in our communities support the character building, leadership skills, and citizenship training that are the  hallmarks of the BSA. We are looking forward to putting our full focus back on serving the over 10,000 youth involved in our programs across northwest North Carolina."

Below is a statement regarding this vote from the National Council, Boy Scouts of America:

"For 103 years, the Boy Scouts of America has been a part of the fabric of this nation, with a focus on working together to deliver the nation's foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training.

Based on growing input from within the Scouting family, the BSA leadership chose to conduct an additional review of the organization's long-standing membership policy and its impact on Scouting's mission. This review created an outpouring of feedback from the Scouting family and the American public, from both those who agree with the current policy and those who support a change.

Following this review, the most comprehensive listening exercise in Scouting's history, the approximate 1,400 voting members of the Boy Scouts of America's National Council approved a resolution to remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone. The resolution also reinforces that Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting. A change to the current membership policy for adult leaders was not under consideration; thus, the policy for adults remains in place. The BSA thanks all the national voting members who participated in this process and vote.

This policy change is effective Jan. 1, 2014, allowing the Boy Scouts of America the transition time needed to communicate and implement this policy to its approximately 116,000 Scouting units.

The Boy Scouts of America will not sacrifice its mission, or the youth served by the movement, by allowing the organization to be consumed by a single, divisive, and unresolved societal issue. As the National Executive Committee just completed a lengthy review process, there are no plans for further review on this matter.

While people have different opinions about this policy, we can all agree that kids are better off when they are in Scouting. Going forward, our Scouting family will continue to focus on reaching and serving youth in order to help them grow into good, strong citizens. America's youth need Scouting, and by focusing on the goals that unite us, we can continue to accomplish incredible things for young people and the communities we serve.

For more information on the Boy Scouts of America's membership standards, please visit www.bsamembershipstandards.org."

The Associated Press, WFMY News 2

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