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BSA set to lift ban on gay leaders; LDS Church responds

By Dennis Romboy  |  Posted Jul 13th, 2015 @ 10:21pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — The nation's largest faith-based sponsor of Scouting and local Utah councils expect to keep the ability to choose their own leaders as the Boy Scouts of America appears poised to ends its ban on gay adult leaders.

The BSA executive committee has unanimously approved a resolution that would allow gay adult leaders and let individual Scout units set their own leadership policy.

In a statement Monday, the BSA said the resolution was approved by the committee on Friday, and would become official policy if ratified by its larger National Executive Board at a meeting on July 27.

John Gailey, Utah National Parks Council spokesman, said BSA chartered members have been able to pick leaders based on their own criteria for more than 100 years.

"It is vital from our perspective that that go forward and this recommendation proposal continues to allow chartered partners to select their own leaders," he said.

The LDS Church, which sponsors more Scouting units than any religious or civic group in the country, said it expects to maintain its right to choose adult leaders. In 2013, Mormon Boy Scouts numbered 437,160, according to BSA.

"As a chartering organization, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has always had the right to select Scout leaders who adhere to moral and religious principles that are consistent with our doctrines and beliefs," according to a statement Monday.

"Any resolution adopted by the Boy Scouts of America regarding leadership in Scouting must continue to affirm that right."

In addition to the National Parks council, Utah is home to the Great Salt Lake and Trapper Trails councils.

Trapper Trails Scout executive Allen Endicott said the northern Utah council remains committed to providing quality Scouting programs and service to its more than 50,000 youth members and volunteers.

"Scouting is more important today than ever," he said. "It is the mission of the BSA and the council to prepare young people to make ethical and moral choices over their lifetimes by instilling in them the values of the Scout oath and law."

The BSA said the resolution would let chartered organizations select adult leaders without regard to sexual orientation, continuing its longstanding policy of allowing them to pick their leaders.

The change allows Scouting's members and parents to choose local units, chartered to organizations with similar beliefs, that best meet the needs of their families, according to the resolution. It would also respect the right of religious chartered organizations to continue to select adult leaders whose beliefs are consistent with their own.

The executive committee action follows an emphatic speech in May by BSA's president, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, declaring that the longtime ban on participation by openly gay adults was no longer sustainable.

In 2013, after bitter internal debate, the BSA decided to allow openly gay youth as Scouts, but not gay adults as leaders.

Earlier this year, the Utah Legislature passed a bill that safeguards LGBT Utahns from discrimination in employment and housing. The law, which includes religious freedom protections, exempts churches, small businesses and specifically the Boy Scouts of America.

Contributing: Associated Press

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