Boy Scouts leaves decision on gay scouts to local members

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The Boy Scouts of America may be close to a controversial change of policy.

The national organization may leave it up to their member groups to lift the ban on gay scouts or scout leaders.

Local Boy Scout leaders and parents were concerned about going on camera due to the sensitivity around this issue. One leader told Eyewitness News he had serious questions about how parents would be told if a gay troop leader was allowed to lead and what policies would exist for summer camps.

"I learned how to tie like 850 different knots. I learned how to build a fire," said Josh Malcak who remembers his time as a Boy Scout fondly.

"It gave me confidence," said Malcak. "Because of Boy Scouts of America, I have enough confidence to talk to anyone."

Malcak had enough confidence to tell us he was glad to see the Boy Scouts of America considering lifting its ban on gay members.

"I feel like people who are gay, are people. Simply that," said Malcak.

Malcak said he believes, though, the decision should be up to the Boy Scouts of America, because they are a private organization.

"It's not a right rule. I don't think its fair, but it is their choice. It is their call," said Malcak.

Eyewitness News came to the local headquarters for the Boy Scouts of America on Fall Creek Road to get their thoughts on the issue. Before our crew could get inside, someone from the local headquarters called and said a spokesperson was not available, but they would email us some comments.

The statement, from Scott Clabaugh, a Scout Executive with the Crossroads of America Council said:

"This is an internal national policy discussion, and no decision has been made. I can say that local councils agree to support the decisions made by the volunteer national executive board. Our united focus is on working together to deliver the nation's foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training."

The Boy Scouts of America explained the proposed policy in a statement they also released. It read:

"For more than 100 years, scouting's focus has been on working together to deliver the nation's foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training. Scouting has always been in an ongoing dialogue with the Scouting family to determine what is in the best interest of the organization and the young people we serve.

Currently, the BSA is discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation. This would mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation, and the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with each organization's mission, principles, or religious beliefs. BSA members and parents would be able to choose a local unit that best meets the needs of their families.

The policy change under discussion would allow the religious, civic, or educational organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting to determine how to address this issue. The Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members, or parents. Under this proposed policy, the BSA would not require any chartered organization to act in ways inconsistent with that organization's mission, principles, or religious beliefs."

A spokesperson for the Girl Scouts of Central Indiana told Eyewitness News their national organization had never faced a debate like this, because it's been their long standing policy not to recruit or discriminate based on race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, national origin, or physical or developmental disability.