Local parents, church react to Boy Scout decision - KMSP-TV

Local parents, church react to Boy Scout decision

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ATLANTA -

A landmark decision by the Boy Scouts of America could change the face of the American institution.

The Boy Scouts of America voted on Thursday to allow gay youth, but bans anyone who is gay from becoming a leader after age 18.

Scout parent Mitch Leff said he welcomed the change.

"I'm very happy that they've made this step to be inclusive so that all boys can feel welcome in Scouting. no matter what their orientation is," said Leff.

Leff said that discrimination shouldn't be a part of a program that's been such an important experience for his two sons.

"I think the scouting movement will adapt and change the way it needs to with this ruling," Leff said.

Roswell Street Baptist Church and its local troop say the decision forces them to choose between following Biblical principles and scouting.

"What they've done today is violation with their own code. Their own pledge ends with "teaching boys to be morally straight." How can you vote like this," said Roswell Street Baptist Church Senior Pastor Ernest Easley.

The decision may cause ties to be severed between many troops traditionally sponsored by churches or faith-based groups.

"It will alter our relationship with the Boy Scouts of America. I cannot imagine our congregation wanting to embrace any organization that is openly gay. Supporting an organization that stood directly in opposition to the morality taught in the word of God," Easley said.

The Boy Scout of America's Atlanta Area Council released a statement saying:

"Today, following the most comprehensive listening exercise in Scouting's history, the approximate 1,400 voting members of the Boy Scouts of America's National Council approved a resolution to remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone. The resolution also reinforces that Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting.

The Scouting program today has the same merit badges, campfires, and great programs as it had yesterday. Our Council's priority also remains the same. We will continue to serve as many Atlanta Scouts as possible with the best leadership development program and once-in-a-lifetime adventures."

The change takes effect January 2014. The Boy Scouts of America said it has no plans to further review the issue.

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