Wednesday, April 23, 2014

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Boy Scouts rethinking ban of openly gay scouts or adult volunteers

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Buffalo: Boy Scouts rethinking ban of openly gay scouts or adult volunteers
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The Boy Scouts of America is considering changing its national policy that bans homosexuality within the organization. The organization currently does not allow openly gay scouts or adult volunteers.

YNN's Ryan Whalen reports that the local governing body, the Greater Niagara Regional Council, says it will back up the National Council whatever choice is made. But officials say any changes would ultimately be up to individual local troops.

"It was kind of, don't ask don't tell, and as long as they're good people we're not going to bother them," said Mark Probst.

Probst, an Eagle Scout, says he joined the Boy Scouts for the camping and camaraderie.

"This was my Troop 565."

He says the sexual orientation of troop leaders or other scouts was rarely a concern for him or his friends.

"From the parents' point of view, I think that's where a lot of your issues are coming from. It's about who they can trust their children with and should they trust their children with."

The Boy Scouts' ban on homosexuality has been a hot button issue across the country.

"I think that the whole discussion has been largely a distraction, taking us away from the important thing of helping boys grow up to be responsible citizens," said Russell Etzenhouser, Greater Niagara Frontier Council.

Monday, the national council announced it's considering allowing each local organization that sponsors a scout pack to make its own decision about sexual orientation restrictions.

"It also would allow families to chose between different organizations that fit their own thought, their own beliefs better," Etzenhouser said.

Local Scoutmaster Robert Reeves says he's not sure what stance his sponsoring organization would take.

"I haven't had a chance to talk to our church about this but personally I don't see a problem with the change that's been proposed. I think it's a good idea," Reeves said.

He says for more than a hundred years the Boy Scouts' main goal has been to mold young men into leaders.

"I think that scouts should be inclusive and if there are young men that want to join, we should move as many barriers to let them join," said Reeves.

"It didn't bother me then, it doesn't bother me now and if someone were to come out and say they were openly gay, I think if I have a child I wouldn't mind letting them go into that troop," Probst said.

There could be a new policy as soon as next Wednesday, when the national council holds its quarterly meeting.

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