Boy Scouts open troops to gay teens

Boy Scouts open troops to gay teens

CHARLESTON COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - It's the start of a new year and a new policy for the Boy Scouts of America.

Controversy surrounding sexual discrimination peaked in 2013 and after months of public meetings and community input, the Boy Scouts National Council took a vote.

As of Jan. 1, openly gay teens are accepted in the scouting ranks.

Legare Clement, Scout Executive for the Coastal Carolina Council, says so far, they've only experienced minor push back .

"We had a couple of parents when the vote first came out that said this was against their personal beliefs and they weren't sure if they were going to allow their child to stay in the scouting program," said Clement.

Clement says some families have pulled out of scouting. The scouts have also heard discomfort from some of their community partners.

"A large percentage of those are faith based organizations and churches," said Clement. "We had a couple of churches that expressed a concern when the vote came."

Okatie Baptist Church in Beaufort County is the first congregation in South Carolina to stop hosting a scout troop in wake of the new policy.

Pastor Tim Tomlinson tells Live 5 the new policy goes against their basic beliefs.

Troop leaders moved to another church in the area.

Clement feels his troops are prepared to handle it any other issues that arise.

"It's going to be left to the individual troop to decide how they want to address each situation on a case by case situation with the involvement of the parents of that troop," said Clement.

However, not everyone agrees that is the best way to handle the new transition.

"I think they need to have training across the board for all of the boy scouts troops," said Melissa Moore, Executive Director of We Are Family. "I don't think that its a wise idea to handle things on a troop by troop basis."

Moore says there is more work to be done and her advocacy group is willing to help.

"I think that allowing openly gay Boy Scouts is a step in the right direction for the scouts, but I don't think that the Boy Scouts is yet a really safe space for the gay youth to serve," said Moore.

Moore says sensitivity training will be important, for both the leaders and the scouts.

But for now, only time will tell.

"Scouting is still going strong," said Clement.

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