Middle TN Scouts react to proposed change in policy - WSMV News 4

Middle TN Scouts react to proposed change in policy

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The Boy Scouts of America made history Friday when the organization proposed changing membership standards by no longer keeping openly gay youth from taking part.

While the Boy Scouts made the move following months of controversy, it might not be a done deal. For now, the proposed policy change appears to be a compromise between differing views.

"It's been very troubling and concerning," said Hugh Travis, Scout executive with the Middle Tennessee Council of the Boy Scouts of America. "We're not comfortable having a discussion as it relates to sexuality, and in fact, it's not a part of our program."

The proposed changes would still deny membership based on sexual orientation for adult leaders.

"It's probably been the most controversial thing we've discussed in decades. We'd certainly like to get this behind us, and it seems like this compromised position would be a way to do that," Travis said. "Our hope is that our charter partners will embrace our efforts to move forward and move beyond this very divisive issue."

That, however, could be difficult. Out of about 1,000 troops in the Middle Tennessee Council, 95 percent responded to a recent survey 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.

"My opinion is we need to get on with scouting. We don't need to be distracted by this controversy," Travis said.

The news brought plenty of reaction on Facebook, including some who expressed hope the middle ground would keep some groups from closing in protest.

At the local Scout council office, that seems the goal: to move beyond the controversy and back to basics.

"We would like not to be a pawn in this cultural discussion and societal change. That's not who we are," Travis said.

About 1,400 members of the Scouts' National Council will vote on the resolution in Texas next month. Seven of those votes will be cast by people in Middle Tennessee.

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