Boy Scouts of America to drop ban on gay Scouts
Raymond Weaver wonders whether his Boy Scout troop will shrink in numbers.
The Boy Scouts of America on Thursday dropped a century-old ban on openly gay boys from participating in Scouting activities. At least one parent of a Scout in Weaver's troop has been vocal about his opposition to the change in the nation's leading youth organization.
“I have no problem with it,” said Weaver, 63, of Whitehall. “I don't know what will happen. We may have phone calls by next week from a half-dozen people saying my child will not be participating.”
Of the 1,400 Boy Scout leaders who voted on whether to allow gay Scouts, more than 60 percent cast ballots in favor of the change during the organization's annual meeting at a conference center not far from BSA headquarters in suburban Dallas. Gay adults will remain barred from serving as Scout leaders.
“They should have kept it all the way around,” Bryan Gardner, who leads Troop 4 at Homestead Park Methodist Church in Munhall, said. “They are just bowing to pressure.”
When Gardner, 55, of Munhall met with parents of Scouts in his troop to discuss it, “they weren't crazy about it,” he said. He worries some troops could run into problems with the churches that charter and host them.
Of the more than 100,000 Scouting units in the United States, 70 percent are chartered by religious institutions. Ebenezer Baptist Church in the Hill District charters Troop 59.
“I don't think it changes anything,” said Calvin Bates, a deacon at the church. “We'll continue to have Troop 59 here at the church.”
Gary Roney, director of the Department of Youth and Young Adult Ministry with the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, said the church would study the decision and wait for direction from the bishops. He doubted any change in the membership policy would change the church's relationship with Scouting.
Some of the Boy Scouts' largest sponsors are relatively conservative denominations that have previously supported the broad ban — notably the Roman Catholic Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Southern Baptist churches.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced in April that it was satisfied with the proposal, and the National Catholic Committee on Scouting did not oppose it.
The BSA could also be hurt financially. Many Scout units in conservative areas feared their local donors would stop giving if the ban on gay youths were lifted, while many major corporate donors were likely to withhold donations if the ban had remained.
The BSA's youth membership is about 2.6 million. It has about 1 million adult leaders and volunteers.
Mike Surbaugh, Scout executive for the Boy Scouts of America's Laurel Highlands Council covering Western Pennsylvania, was at the organization's meeting in Texas but did not have an immediate reaction to the vote. In an email, Surbaugh stated that the board and council leadership will meet next week.
“We're going to continue to serve youth. That's our answer,” said Jack Waite, assistant Scout executive for the Westmoreland-Fayette Council of Boy Scouts.
For Frank Glazer, the BSA's decision did not go far enough. Glazer, 63, of Collier is the membership director for the Pittsburgh chapter of the National Eagle Scout Association, a Boy Scout alumni association, and he wanted the ban on gay Scout leaders dropped as well.
“It's kind of a trade-off. We'll allow this, but we won't allow that,” he said. “The only decision that they are basing it on is the insane notion in their minds that gay and pedophilia are the same thing when they're not.”
Gay rights advocates in the Pittsburgh area celebrated the Boy Scouts' decision.
“I think this is another monumental moment for the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) rights movement,” said Gary Van Horn, board president of the Delta Foundation, a pro-gay organization in Pittsburgh. “I think the country is changing. The hearts and minds are changing.”
Weaver, whose Troop 210 meets in Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Whitehall, is glad Scouting is changing.
“Scouting has to change with it, or it won't exist anymore,” he said.
Aaron Aupperlee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 412-320-7986. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Deputy vanishes amid Texas flooding
- Rossi: The series that will define these Pirates
- 2 New Kensington buildings burn downtown
- Pitt star running back Conner adjusting to higher profile this year
- It’s not a small world after all: Global population estimated to soar
- Steelers’ Timmons looks to reverse defense’s struggles
- Growing RMU nursing school poised for expansion
- Google grants teachers’ school supply wishes
- Steelers’ Polamalu relying on smarts as physical skills decline
- Pirates hold on to beat Red Sox, complete 3-game sweep at PNC
- Alligator spotted at Cheswick shoreline