Local leaders await Boy Scout decision on gay policy
2/12/2013 6:00:00 AM
KINGMAN - When it comes to admitting gays into the Boy Scouts of America, Scouts in Mohave County will take a wait and see approach.
That's the message from Shane Calendine, the scout executive for the Las Vegas Area Council, which includes Mohave County.
"This is a national issue," said Calendine. "We agree we will follow our volunteer National Executive Board's policies and procedures. That's our charter."
Last week, the Boy Scouts of America was scheduled to decide whether to lift a ban on admitting gays to its ranks. Faced with intense media coverage, the executive board decided to postpone a vote until May, when the organization holds its annual national meeting.
According to a statement from the BSA, the May meeting will involve about 1,400 voting members - far more than were able to participate earlier this month.
"In the past two weeks, Scouting has received an outpouring of feedback from the American public," said the BSA in a statement. "It reinforces how deeply people care about Scouting and how passionate they are about the organization."
That passion runs deep on both sides, said Calendine.
"This decision will certainly have an impact locally," he said, whatever the outcome. "People are passionate on both sides, but people need to remember that Scouting is about our youth.
"At the end of the day, we have to determine how to best provide for our Scouts. That's always been the mission."
Calendine said he thinks the national board will leave the decision to individual groups.
The goal, he said, shouldn't be about sexuality, but about maintaining quality programs. At 103 years old, he said, the BSA has played a key role in developing character in Scouts by reinforcing values-based leadership training.
Some consider allowing individual troops to make the decision a cop-out, but Calendine believes the BSA will be criticized no matter what the national board decides.
If gays are included, churches and other organizations that sponsor Scouts could rebel based on moral grounds.
If the ban remains in place, gay advocates will accuse the BSA of discrimination.
There is also the issue of fundraising. Recently, shipping giant UPS and other companies pulled their charitable contributions from the BSA, and other companies might follow suit, depending on the outcome of May's vote.
"I just don't see a win-win here," said Calendine. "I don't think we can make a decision that would allow us to do that."
Calendine said there are about 960 active Scouts in the Mohave District and approximately 400 adult volunteers. The Las Vegas Area Council collectively has about 19,400 Scouts and 7,000 adult volunteers.
"There are a lot of great Scouts and leaders in the Mohave District," said Calendine. "They'll do what's right for Scouting."