Scouts considering retreat from no-gays policy - New York News

Scouts considering retreat from no-gays policy

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The Boy Scouts of America said Monday it may change decades of policy and allow gay scouts and troop leaders.

It's a divisive issue in some parts of the Chicago area. While some strongly support the ban on gay scout leaders, it prompted other families to quit the movement.

"I know that there are great folks out there who are gay and lesbian who will be wonderful leaders, including some of the parents in the group that we're with," says Rob Reymaier.

Breymaier's do-it-yourself boys' group in West Suburban Oak Park formed last year, after he and other parents pulled their children out of the Boy Scouts of America.

After Monday's announcement that the scouts may soon let each local unit decide for itself whether to have gay adult leaders, Breymaier and his wife may return with their son, who didn't want to quit in the first place.

"He was upset about it, which is why we created the alternative, because other than that policy it's a really great organization that does a lot of great things," Breymaier says. "And boys have a lot of fun in learning those things.

On the other side of the debate about having openly gay adult leaders in the Boy Scouts, is lawyer John Mauck who represents 200 churches that are fighting gay marriage.

"I think it creates risk for young boys and young men to be exposed to homosexual lifestyle and perhaps be changed and seduced, or attacked by predators," Mauck says.

Since scouting was scandalized by adult leaders who committed such sexual assaults, strict new policies are in place, such as prohibiting an adult from being alone with just one boy.

A straight Eagle Scout from Iowa who founded Scouts for Equality told FOX 32 by telephone that it's inevitable that gay adults will eventually serve openly as scout leaders.

"Maintaining this policy is unsustainable for the long term and, two, what this is going to do is put this decision making power in the hands of local councils," Scouts for Equality founder Zach Wahls says.

Of the 85,000 scouts in the Chicago area, many belong to Church-sponsored troops. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said only, "The Bishops hope the Boy Scouts will continue to work under...Judeo-Christian principles." But a leader of Southern Baptists angrily predicted "a very significant backlash" and some defections if the Boy Scouts change their anti-gay policy.

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