Local Boy Scouts react to upcoming 'gay membership' vote

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Reporter - Jason Hibbs
Photojournalist - Randall Barnes

PADUCAH, Ky. - The Boy Scouts of America is considering allowing openly gay scouts to join the organization, while the ban on gay leadership remains. In February, the Boy Scouts reached out to scout leaders, members, donors, and community groups with a series of survey questions about allowing openly gay scouts.

After review, the organization recommended removing the ban on openly gay scouts, but keeping the same standards for scout leaders.

Next month the voting members will decide on a new resolution that would "remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone and would maintain the current membership policy for all adult leaders of the Boy Scouts of America."

The Lincoln Heritage Council oversees chapters in 64 counties across four states in the Local 6 area and they had no comment.  In fact, a spokesperson told reporter Jason Hibbs they've asked local scout leaders to say the same thing when media calls.  But one longtime scout leader wasn't afraid to share his opinion with Local 6.

While he's not worried about this decision, he said he and his parents are worried about what's next for the scouts.

The badges on the back of Scout Master John Wood's jacket make it clear.  After a lifetime of scouting, and 48 years of leading, Wood has traveled many places, but he never thought the Boy Scouts of America would end up here.

"This issue has been around a long time but its just now being spoken of real openly this time around," Wood said.

Wood answered the controversial and confidential questions on a survey.

He said he, his scouts, and their parents are alright with allowing gay scouts, but in a letter he sent to Boy Scout leadership, he said he worries about allowing gay leaders into the scouts, but his protest isn't as strong as it was a few months ago because he now knows same sex orientation does not make for pedophile behavior. But he's still uncomfortable with it.

"Kind of how I grew up," Wood said.

He fears, soon, the scouts will consider accepting gay leaders.

He's glad the organization is addressing the issues, but says he wishes they could get back to basics, the reason he joined 60 something years ago.

"That's not what scouting is about.  It's about respect for each other.  It's about duty to God, duty to others, duty to self," Wood said.

It's important to point out, right now, nothing has changed. The voting members will vote on this at the national meeting in Dallas on the 24Th of May.

If they approve the changes, they wont take affect until January 1st.

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