Boy Scouts delay gay vote

Published 9:26 am Thursday, February 7, 2013

A highly anticipated decision to permit gay adults and/or youth to join the ranks of the Boy Scouts of America will wait until another day.

On Wednesday, the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America decided to delay the vote on allowing charter partners to be able to decide on allowing gay adults or youth into their Scout units owned by chartered partners.

Locally, Ray Franks, Scout Executive and Chief Operating Officer for East Carolina Council, BSA, stated that he thought the decision to refer the vote to the full National Council membership at its annual meeting in May was the right decision. He stated that East Carolina Council, which serves over 9,000 youth annually through 3,500 volunteers, including several troops in the Roanoke-Chowan area, had no volunteers present at the National Council, BSA Executive Board meeting where the discussion was taking place.

“At the May National Council Meeting we have four council volunteers with voting rights out of the possible 1,400 volunteers that are voting members of the National Council. A decision of this magnitude is best decided by the voting members from all 280 councils in the United States,” Franks stated in a press release sent Wednesday to this newspaper.

In that same press release was a joint statement from three top-ranking officials representing Boy Scouts of America – Wayne M. Perry, National President, Tico A. Perez, National Commissioner, and Wayne Brock, Chief Scout Executive. That statement is as follows:

“For 103 years, the Boy Scouts of America has been a part of the fabric of this nation, providing its youth program of character development and values-based leadership training.   In the past two weeks, Scouting has received an outpouring of feedback from the American public. It reinforces how deeply people care about Scouting and how passionate they are about the organization.

“After careful consideration and extensive dialogue within the Scouting family, along with comments from those outside the organization, the volunteer officers of the Boy Scouts of America’s National Executive Board concluded that due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a more deliberate review of its membership policy.

“To that end, the executive board directed its committees to further engage representatives of Scouting’s membership and listen to their perspectives and concerns.  This will assist the officers’ work on a resolution on membership standards. The approximately 1,400 voting members of the national council will take action on the resolution at the national meeting in May 2013.

“In the coming days and weeks, more information will be shared with you.  In the meantime, thanks for all you do for Scouting.”

Franks stated that he thought long term that the policy to allow gays into Scouting would be changed unless more individuals who support the present policy and Scouting Alumni stepped up to support their local council.

The number of local Scout councils have decreased from about 325 to 280 in the past five years as a result of mergers of councils no longer had enough support to sustain their operations. East Carolina Council, BSA with offices in Kinston, have three less professional staff than last year at the same time. The council has lost $30,000 – $50,000 in the past year in giving that can be directly related to BSA’s policies on the homosexual issue and has been turned down by many more trust funds and companies.

“Those wanting to keep the policy the same will have to step up and financially support local councils throughout the country,” Franks stated.

For more information on Scouting in East Carolina Council, BSA call 252-522-1521.