Facing diverse and ceaseless protests, the Boy Scouts of America is signaling its readiness to end the nationwide exclusion of gays as scouts or leaders and give the sponsors of local troops the freedom to decide the matter for themselves.
The Scouts' national executive board could approve the measure possibly as soon as next week. The change would be another momentous milestone for America's gay-rights movement, following a surge of support for same-sex marriage and the ending of the ban on gays serving opening in military.
The proposed change was outlined Monday by the Scouts. Under it, the different religious and civic groups that sponsor Scout units would be able to decide for themselves whether to maintain an exclusion of gays or to open up their membership.
“The Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents,” BSA Director of Public Relations Deron Smith said Monday in a statement. “Under this proposed policy, the BSA would not require any chartered organization to act in ways inconsistent with that organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs.”
41 Action News spoke with a former Boy Scout who was ousted from his camp last year when he told his troop he was gay.
When we spoke with him in July, Eric Jones said he was proud of what he had learned in the Boy Scouts and believed he would one day be allowed back in.
On Monday, he said it was an “amazing feeling” to see the organization that helped shape who he is change.
“Scouting will be the same,” Jones said Monday from his home in Springfield. “It will just be now there will be opportunities for gay scouts to be involved and to be involved openly."
Not everyone is so excited about the proposed changes in policy, though.
Jeremy Howard is a bible studies student in the Kansas City area.
“Because of my personal convictions and my faith I would have to disagree,” Howard told 41 Action News Monday evening.
"To me it always goes back to the Bible,” Howard said. “I believe God wrote a book and I believe that's how he communicates to us."
Howard says based on scripture, homosexuality is a sin.
"There is always the tension between loving the sinner and hating the sin,” Howard said. “That phrase isn't in the Bible but I do think that's what Jesus practiced."
Howard says he would not allow his children to be in the Boy Scouts if the policy changes.
"I wouldn't want to put them in a situation where they would be influenced by a culture or worldview that I didn't agree with,” Howard said. “Although I want them to be educated and understand it I don't want them to be influenced by it."
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