Some parents approve of possible Boy Scout policy change
On Monday, the Boy Scouts of America announced that the organization may change its stance on allowing gay Scout troop leaders and members, letting the sponsors of local troops decide the matter for themselves.
According to a statement from BSA spokesman Deron Smith, under the proposed change, “the Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members or parents.”
If the change is adopted, Smith said, “there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation.”
Dan McLeroy, chairman of the Two Rivers District — which covers all of Sarasota and Charlotte counties and a portion of DeSoto — of the BSA’s Southwest Florida Council, said he wasn’t sure whether the change will be approved, or how events will play out.
“We just heard about it yesterday like everyone else,” he said Tuesday, adding he hasn’t heard from any parents or troop leaders about the topic.
“BSA members and parents would be able to choose a local unit that best meets the needs of their families,” Smith said in his 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.”
When the question about the proposed BSA policy change was posted on the Sun ’s Facebook page, the majority of commenters were in favor.
“Our children don’t know these things unless we have taught them that there is a difference,” Cierra Nicole Beno said. “I myself didn’t even know you couldn’t be a Boy Scout if you were gay! That’s just ridiculous!”
Christina Kirst wrote that she didn’t think the BSA changing its views will have any negative impact on enrollment and/or on the Scouts.
Lori Lord Masucci said in her post that she hasn’t allowed her son to take part in scouting because of the current policy excluding gays.
“I can’t imagine how heartbroken he would be if he joined, loved it, turned out to be gay, then got kicked out,” she said. “I do think he would love it, just like my brother did when we were kids, and if they change their policy I’ll probably let him join. I just can’t send him into an organization as a child that might later discriminate against him when he’s a teen.”
The Irving, Texas-based BSA, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2010, has long excluded both gays and atheists. Protests over the no-gays policy gained momentum in 2000, when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the BSA’s right to exclude gays.
The change could be approved by the Scouts’ national executive board possibly as soon as next week. Under the proposed change, the different religious and civic groups that sponsor Scout units would be able to decide for themselves how to address the issue — either maintaining an exclusion of gays, as is now required of all units, or opening up their membership.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.