NATION

Boy Scouts vote to allow openly gay Scouts in

Comment
Decrease Increase Text size

The Boy Scouts of America's National Council has voted to ease a long-standing ban and allow openly gay boys to be accepted as Scouts.

Of the local Scout leaders voting at their annual meeting in Texas, more than 60 percent supported the proposal.

Under the proposal drafted by the Scouts' governing board, gay adults will remain barred from serving as Scout leaders. 

Larry Cirignano of Falls Church is an Eagle Scout and a Catholic who predicts serious fallout if the policy changes.

“I believe that parents would not have their children joining the Boy Scouts, I believe that scouts that are in the system would get out, and I believe that donors will leave,” he says.

Seventy percent of troops in the U.S. are chartered by religious organizations, many of which oppose overt homosexuality. They could be forced to get out of the Boy Scout business.

But others, especially younger scouts, say it's time to embrace everyone.

“They've been participating. (We) need to support them as who they are (and they should) continue being members,” says Andrew Kragie, an Eagle Scout.

And Kragie says fears of boys getting hit on during camp outs and sleepovers are unfounded.

“You can share a tent and be respectful without considering … a boyfriend,” Kragie says. “It just wasn't an issue.”

Heather Telfer, mother of a Cub Scout, says she's not worried, either.

“I think they shouldn't care what your sexual orientation is, so...that's just me,” she says.

How many would possibly leave?

One estimate suggested a policy change could cause as many as 100,000 to 350,000 Scouts to leave. And it could also affect donors - just more than half of local councils reported to BSA that their donors supported the current ban.

Of the more than 100,000 Scouting units in the U.S., 70 percent are chartered by religious institutions. While these sponsors include liberal churches opposed to any ban on gays, some of the largest sponsors are relatively conservative denominations that have previously supported the broad ban - notably the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Southern Baptist churches.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced in April that it supports the new proposal. Leaders of some smaller, conservative denominations have opposed it.

"Ultimately we can't anticipate how people will vote but we do know that the result will not match everyone's personal preference," said Deron Smith, BSA's national spokesman.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Would you like to contribute to this story? Join the discussion.

Recommended For You
comments powered by Disqus