Scout leaders in Charleston respond to possible gay policy rever - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Scout leaders in Charleston respond to possible gay policy reversal

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The Boy Scouts of America is considering ending its national ban on membership based on sexual orientation.

Under the revision being considered, the different religious and civic groups that sponsor Scout units would be able to decide for themselves how to address the matter, CBS reported Monday.

Troops would have the option of either maintaining an exclusion of gays or opening up their membership.

BSA spokesman Deron Smith said under the proposed change... "the Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents."

Leaders of Troop 64 in Charleston said they would defer to BSA in deciding its policy.

"We pretty much just follow whatever the policies are of the national organization, whatever votes they have at the different councils," said Kevin Abdalla, the assistant scout mater for Troop 64.

Abdalla led the weekly meeting on Monday, which focused on world citizenship. Scouts used their cell phones and iPads to look up the latest headlines around the globe.

"Boy Scouts give kids opportunities they wouldn't otherwise have," Abdalla said.

Other leaders said the issue could spark controversy.

Many, but not all, boy scout troops nationwide are affiliated with some kind of religious group.

Emmanuel Baptist Church on Charleston's West Side charters Troop 64. Boy and Cub scouts hold their meetings at the church almost every week.

"Boy Scouts is not technically a religious group, but it has that aspect," said Woody Hill, a trooper leader for the Cub Scouts' Pack 64. "It's non denominational and it is inclusive. Some people may not agree based on religious values."

Scott Jarrell works for Fairness West Virginia, a group committed to equal treatment for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender West Virginians. He's also an Eagle Scout.

"For Fairness, we're ecstatic, and we applaud the Boy Scouts for doing that," Jarrell said. "I think that just gives them the ability to show acceptance towards others to be accepting."

But Aaron Pilkington, also an Eagle Scout, said BSA should maintain the ban on gays in leadership roles.

"I'm fairly sure BSA has no problem with gay scouts," said Pilkington, who grew up in Fairmont, W.Va., and now attends college in Pennsylvania. "It's the leaders. You wouldn't want a man to be a leader of a girl scout troop."

Some parents said whatever the organization decides, the Boy Scouts have helped their children grow. Rob Plutro's son grew up in Troop 64 and said the experience helped him become more outgoing.

"He has a hard time speaking, so for him to get up and participate in front of the troop like that, that's been a great thing for him," Plutro said. "As long as they make the best decision of what they feel is what's best for children, then we'll decide what the parents feel is the best decision for our children."

In July 12, troop leaders ousted a Ohio woman as a den mother because she was a lesbian. In that case, the BSA upheld its membership ban for sexual orientation.

The national Boy Scouts for America will go over the reversal next week in Texas and most likely issue a decision by February 6.

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