Boy Scouts to consider ending ban on gay membership

Monday, February 4, 2013 | 6:53 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — If the Boy Scouts of America changes its national policy on banning gay Scouts and Scout leaders, the decision to change local policy could be decided by the more than 200 charter organizations that support troops in the Great Rivers Council.

Doug Callahan, Scout executive with the council, which encompasses the Columbia community, said there has not been much discussion about the issue yet within the council because the national board has not finalized a decision.

The Boy Scouts of America executive board, which sets policy for the organization nationwide, announced last week that it plans to meet Wednesday to decide to lift the ban. As part of that vote, it is expected to allow local organizations to decide if they want to follow suit. Currently, local chapters must follow national policy.

“If a Boy Scout troop was sponsored by the Catholic Church or the (Church of Latter Day Saints) church, for example, or organizations that have policies in place that consider homosexuality to be immoral, then they could still have (the ban) as part of their own policy,” Callahan said.

The Great River Council has had to turn away prospective leaders in the past because of the national policy, Callahan said. Since the news broke that the national ban could be lifted, he has received numerous phone calls and letters expressing opinions on  both sides of the issue, he said.

“The Boy Scouts of America has asked for input from across the country, and they have been hearing from our volunteers,” he said.

Callahan said he tries to remind people of the goals of the Boy Scouts.

“It is our mission, to teach boys life skills and character and leadership,” he said. “A lot of this other stuff is really distracting and regardless of what happens, let's remember why we are all here, and that is to help our young people.”

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