Wednesday, March 13 2013, 10:22 AM CDT
Boy Scouts of America react to proposed policy change
BEAUMONT - By Megan Dillard - An organization known for encouraging and educating boys is set to discuss a major change in policy. The Boy Scouts of America is considering allowing gays to participate as leaders and youth members in the organization.
The group has been around for more than a century.
Though the organization is only discussing lifting the sexual orientation ban, the executive scout in this region explains people are already voicing opinions on both sides of the issue.
"It's interesting. The United States is pretty well split on this issue. About half the population is for and about half the population is against. I've received a few phone calls in the positive and a few in the negative."
Les Bentley has led the scout organization in southeast Texas for six years. He says lifting the ban is something the national board has studied and discussed for more than a decade.
Bentley wants people to remember the group is still discussing the potential to change the rule.
Nothing has changed yet.
He also says if the policy changes, the churches, schools, and community organizations that work with Boy Scouts would still have the ultimate say-so in who participates in each unit.
"If it was passed, what it would do is allow the chartered partners to instill their values, their mission on their own unit. They would have complete control over the leadership in their own unit."
The scout executive says with the current rules, one's sexual orientation is not something the organization discusses.
"The policy that we even actually have in place right now, we don't ask our adult leaders' orientation one way or the other. We don't know. So this wouldn't change it that much, other than it would remove the sexual orientation policy."
In the face of the proposed change, Bentley wants people to remember the goal of Boy Scouts of America, which is to teach young people values, character, leadership, and physical fitness.
The organization's national executive board is expected to discuss lifting the ban at a board meeting next week.