TN Scout troops could disband if policy allows gay members - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

TN Scout troops could disband if policy allows gay members


In less than two months, national leaders in the Boy Scouts of America will vote on a measure to lift a ban on openly gay members.

If that happens, some local Scout leaders say they'd rather see their troops fold than accept the change.

"We teach character development and leadership skills, and we just believe it is viable and important in our communities," said Hugh Travis, Scout executive with the Middle Tennessee Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

For 103 years, that has been the Boy Scouts goal, but some are now concerned that a potential policy change to accept openly gay members may jeopardize their work.

The Middle Tennessee Council recently sent out an impact survey to gauge how the troops in their 37 counties felt about a possible change.

"What effect would that be on their membership? Would we lose some children? Would we lose families? And whether they would continue to operate scouting at that location," Travis said, of the questionnaire.

Out of about 1,000 troops, 95 percent responded they are opposed to the change, and nearly half of the local troops said they would just shut down their charter all together.

About 80 percent of the troops' charters are run by churches who believe the openly gay Scouts policy brings up moral issues that conflict with the Boy Scout oath.

Some were also concerned about legal issues.

"They fear that, down the road, some activist group would come and sue them for admission if they choose not to want to have gay leaders in their unit," Travis said.

Delegates are set to vote on the possible policy change May 23 at the national Boy Scouts meeting.

Travis said, overall, it's not about exclusion, and he stands by the Scout law, which has never included sexuality.

"Our current policy is that we don't ask the sexuality of an individual," he said.

If some chapters decide to close, the council will have to find others to serve the area.

Already, some Southern Baptists have spun off their own troops, called the Royal Ambassadors.

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