Chicago Area Scouting Officials Endorse Inclusion Of Openly Gay Youths
Updated 05/24/13 – 6:08 a.m.
(CBS) — Gay rights activists are pleased with the decision by the National Council of the Boy Scouts of America to begin allowing openly-gay scouts, effect near year.
Anti-gay activists are not pleased, even though the action maintains a ban on gay leaders.
Oddly, activists on both sides see the same outcome to the ongoing battle over adult leadership — with gays integrating all other parts of Scouting.
Chicagoan Terry Howerton, a former Eagle Scout, was active in the move to put an end to the gay prohibition. Now, he wants to end the ban on gay adult scout leaders.
“Discrimination anywhere is wrong on this issue,” he told CBS 2’s Mike Parker.
National scout leaders continue to stress that, despite Thursday’s vote, sexual activity of any kind — gay or straight — will not be condoned.
The leaders of the Chicago Area Boy Scout council were reportedly active in getting the gay ban overturned. They say that while people can disagree, the new policy will allow more kids to take part in scouting.
“We believe this update to our policy will allow all kids who sincerely want to be a part of Scouting to experience this life-changing program while remaining true to the long-standing virtues of Scouting,” Executive/CEO H. Charles Dobbins said in a written statement. “While people have different opinions about this policy, we can all agree that kids are better off when they are in Scouting.”
Anti-gay activist Peter LaBarbera heads the Chicago-based group “Americans for Truth.” He said he is “disgusted” with the policy change, said he believes the Scouts should not have given in to pressure to change a policy affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court, and said the Scouts should have taken a hard right, looking for financing, membership and leaders through conservative business leaders.
Jennifer Tyrrell launched the protest movement that has resulted in the change to allow gay Scouts. She was fired as a Cub Scout den mother after admitting she is a lesbian. She is pleased, and said gay rights activists won’t stop their fight until gays are also allowed into leadership roles.
Oddly, LaBarbera agrees that is the likely outcome. But LaBarbera predicts a mass exodus from Scouting in coming months as the January deadline approaches.
Tyrrell predicts that other religious denominations and financial backers will more than make up the losses.
Scouting Chicago Area Council CEO H. Charles Dobbins issued a statement, in which he said the change will allow all children who “sincerely want to be a part of scouting to experience it while remaining true to Scouting’s “long-standing virtues.”