(AP & WHAM 1180 News) The Boy Scouts of America is considering a dramatic change in its controversial policy of excluding gays as leaders and youth members. Under the change being considered, the different religious and civic groups that sponsor scout units would be able to decide for themselves how to address the issue _ either maintaining an exclusion of gays or opening up their membership.
There have been years of protests over the policy _ including petition campaigns that have prompted some corporations to suspend donations to the boy scouts.
This is an issue that the boy scout council covering several Rochester area counties has already been discussing in recent years.
The head of the local Seneca Waterways Boy Scout Council, Steve Hoitt, tells us that about a dozen years ago, the local council did get together with the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley, and other organizations to work on a policy for dealing with this issue.
He says that basically that policy means the local council does not ask prospective scouts or scout leaders what their sexual orientation is, but they are expected to uphold the overall scouting standards if they are to be a member of the organization. Hoitt is waiting to see what changes actually come down from the national organization in the coming days.
At the Gay Alliance, education director Scott Fearing says he's encouraged by what he's heard so far about the new national policy:
"I think that this is an opportunity for them to move forward and instead of being so far behind everyone else, move into today's world."
Fearing says at the Gay Alliance they haven't heard of people being denied entrance into area scouting organizations. He says the concerns he hears about usually have to do with the children of gay parents feeling uncomfortable when they join some local scout troops.