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New Proposal Plans to Uplift Boy Scout Ban on Gay Members

By Natalie Potts
By npotts@wbbjtv.com

JACKSON, Tenn.- The national board of the Boy Scouts of America is considering changing its policy to include the acceptance of gay members and troop leaders.

The Scouts have fought this idea for years, claiming the group has done without such a clause for more than 100 years.

Clif Morris who is the CEO Boy Scout Executive for West Tennessee, told WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News that the proposal would give Boy Scout units the choice to lift restrictions on openly gay members, should they wish.

"The opportunity to change to a local unit or charter partner that shares believes that might be consistent with the needs of their family," said Morris.

Morris said scouting is a youth program that is structurally conservative. Residents have mixed feelings about the new proposal. Some people said allowing members of the same sex orientation, would contradict the organizations traditional values and be the downfall of the organization's core values.

"People are going to be concerned about homosexual men leading their sons," said Reese, from Jackson. "If it were my grandson, I would have some reservations and I think that's going to be a problem for the boy scouts if they move in that direction."

Those in support of the proposal said the bill is a step in the right direction, and shows the organization's ability to adapt to a more modernized America. Resident Tim Bradford told WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News that he believes everyone in the United States should be allowed equal opportunities, regardless of their sexual orientation.

"I think it's wrong that they say that if you are gay or bisexual you're still human and you have the same blood that they do," said Bradford.

Morris said if a policy change is made, Boy Scouts will not dictate to their units, scout leaders, or parents on which position they should take. Under the new policy, it will still be possible for some units to keep out openly gay members.

"it would not require any of the charter and organizations to to act any way or any shape consistent with the organization's mission, principles or values," said Morris.

Residents said it Is a sensitive decision because there are strong believes on both sides of the issue.

"The other side of me is that this is a free country, they have every right to live in this country and enjoy the same rights that we do. It's just a tough question for me," said Reese.

Morris said right now the policy change is only under discussion and he plans to follow and administer council under the national policy, however it is written.