Boy Scouts of America divided on allowing gay members

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - A divided organization, the Boy Scouts of America are in turmoil over a policy that bans openly gay members and troop leaders.

On one side, Fred Whittle President of the Coastal Carolina Council Board said admitting gay members would be against his beliefs.

"As a Christian I can tell you from a personal stand point I'm guided by Holy Scripture which is clear in prohibiting the practice of homosexuality," said Whittle.

Whittle is a long time supporter of the Boy Scouts.

On the other side is a gay advocate. Warren Redman-Gress, Executive Director of Alliance for Full Acceptance said, "If they decide to ban gay people from either being leaders or even participating, I would say that is a form of discrimination."

Redman Gress, a scout member until the age of 15 hopes for a national decision of acceptance. He says integration is beneficial to all scout members.

"To create sort of a false sense of we're only one kind of people here in this particular troop, we only have to work with one kind of person doesn't prepare them for work in the real world," said Redman-Gress.

If the national council decides not to keep the current ban on allowing gay members, they have two options. Make it a national standard to allow gay members or leave it up to the individual chartering organizations.

According to Legare Clement, Executive Director of the Coastal Carolina Council, more than 80% of the scout troops in the 9 surrounding counties are run by churches.

"I'm sure there will be some strong feelings on both sides of the issue. Most of the churches already have a policy in place and they could align that with what their policy is," said Clement.

Redman-Gress said its important for parents to ask questions about the gay community as the world begins to change.

He said, "I would encourage them to really take the effort to learn more because the world their child is growing up in is maybe more diverse than they've imagined."

The Coastal Carolina Council will soon have an email where members of the community could send their opinions on this issue. All comments will be sent to area delegates before a final vote is made in May.

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