The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Community News Network

May 24, 2013

Boy Scouts: Yes to gay youths, no to adults

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

The new policy goes into effect Jan. 1.

For Theodore Anderson, an 18-year-old Springfield, Va. assistant scoutmaster, the vote means the end of 12 years in the program. The policy, he said, "goes against what my Bible and religion states are pleasing to the Lord." Anderson plans to help his church launch a new youth program without openly gay members.

"You're bringing into Scouting a whole new aspect that isn't part of the program," Anderson said. "Parents would have to explain certain things to youth of certain ages they don't need to know about or worry about yet. It would slowly take the fun out of it."

Jay Mechling, author of "On My Honor: Boy Scouts and the Making of American Youth," said the organization knew it would lose members either way but was cognizant of its future .

"They are attuned to the demographics and understand that everything we know about young people is that that cohort doesn't care about sexual orientation," he said. "If you want to understand these decisions, you have to understand the Boy Scouts is first and primarily a business. It has been all along."

A February Boy Scout poll showed deep divisions, with a majority of teen Scouts opposing both bans and 61 percent of all members supporting them.

Gay rights groups have poured resources into the measure's passage, which they called "historic" when viewed as an important step toward eventually removing the ban against gay adult leaders. For this reason, gay proponents said they are willing to overlook temporarily the obvious awkwardness of the arrangement: Youths who are gay can be out, but the day they turn 18 they can no longer serve in an organization in which it's common for people who were Boy Scouts to remain active as adult leaders.

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