Boy Scouts of America debates changing ban on gay leaders, members

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By Jennifer Thomas By Jennifer Thomas


PHOENIX -- Brave, loyal, cheerful and kind. Those are just a few of the words used to describe Boy Scouts under Scout Law. They state how troops are supposed to live and care for themselves and others. Now, after years of excluding the gay community from its ranks, the Scouts may also be inclusive.

This week, The Boy Scouts of America announced it may change its policy banning gays, instead allowing local councils to decide whether or not to include them. In Arizona, that means five different councils could be asked to make that choice and each could have a different answer. We asked the Grand Canyon Council for its reaction, but staff said no comment since at this point, the change in policy is only an idea.

"The ban is old, it's antiquated, it's not the right thing to do," said Rebecca Winninger with Equality Arizona.

She calls this a move toward a more open organization but is cautious, knowing this would still give councils the ability to ban gay members.

"Part of me says it could be a dangerous play for a national organization to say, 'We're going to leave policy up to the local chapters,' but at the same time, the local chapters that embrace diversity and that openness in their leaders and potentially their members that are coming out at a younger age, it will give a new face and new relationships being formed with our community," Winninger said.

The Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America will take up the issue at a meeting next week in Texas.