COLUMBIA (WACH / AP) â?? â??The Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstance, dictate a position to units, members or parents.â?? This statement from Boy Scoutâ??s spokesman Deron Smith on a possible change in their policy of excluding gays as scout leaders and scouts.
The potential change, which was announced Monday, comes as the organization continues to face â??ceaseless protests.â?? The protests over the no-gays policy that has been in force since the itâ??s founding in 1910 increased after a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding the Boy Scouts of Americaâ??s right to exclude gays.
Under the proposed change, different religious and civic groups would decide for themselves how to address the issue, given an option to maintain the exclusion of gays, which is now policy, or open up their membership.
The Boy Scouts also exclude atheists, a rule that is not being considered for change, as they feel â?? Duty to God â?? is a basic principal of scouting.
If the rule is changed at the national level, the decisions of leadership will still be made â??in the community,â?? says Indian Waters Scout Executive Doug Stone. According to Stone, if the sponsor of a local community troop disagrees with any proposed change, they donâ??t have to change.
The Indian Waters Council , which is based in the Midlands, is one of about 290 councils chartered by the national Boy Scout organization to implement scouting to local groups, which are, according to Stone, â??mostly religious organizations.â??
These organizations, in turn, use scouting as a way to provide outreach to young people in the community. It is in the community where decisions about whether or not gays can serve as leaders and scouts will be made.
Stone says that â??every major faith based organizationâ?? sponsors scouting, and itâ??s those groups that are â??facing the same challenges in trying to understand the best ways to approach the acceptance of homosexuality,â?? pointing out that â??scouting is no different.â??
Is the change based on pressure from other organizations? Stone says no. â??The boy scouts donâ??t care about other organizations that want to change what weâ??re all about.â?? Stone says the concern of the Boy Scouts is their own constituencies. â??When they are telling us to approach something differently,â?? he says, â??Scouting is listening.â??
The decision on any change in Boy Scout policy could come as early as next week.
What are you thoughts on the change to allow gays in the Boy Scout program?
(The AP contributed to this story.)