Utah Boy Scout troop first to welcome gay leaders

A Utah Boy Scout troop has announced that it will sponsoring a troop that welcomes gay leaders.

Just days ago the Boy Scouts of America lifted a blanket ban on gay leaders in the organization. Quickly following was a Utah group who was responsible for pushing the legalization of gay marriage in the state announcing their support to gay troop leaders, according to Lancaster Online.

Restore Our Humanity’s Mark Lawrence said that getting the troop approved as well as up and running would be an automatic uphill battle in Utah, known to be conservative territory. Most troops in the state are endorsed by the Mormon church. Nevertheless, he added that they could still be a model for every future troop in America.

“I think it’s important for us to do this now,” Lawrence said at a news conference. He also added that by welcoming gay leaders into the troops, they could create new interest in the organization.

Already, Lawrence has heard from many willing volunteers including professionals such as doctors, police officers and a rabbi.

In the coming weeks, organizers will be completing an application to have a troop ready to roll by the fall.

In a statement, the Boy Scouts’ Great Salt Lake Council said that they appreciated the group’s interests, and that the application would have to be submitted for national approval.

Lifting the ban on July 27 motivated many gay Eagle Scouts around the nation to rejoice and rejoin the movement. But that was not the only reaction that followed. The Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were not as happy about the decision.

As one of the nation’s biggest sponsors of the Boy Scout units they expressed their deep concern about the decision that they pointed out was inconsistent to the church’s teachings. They said that the Boy Scout’s represented traditional values and the decision did not.

The new policy does however allow church-sponsored Scout units to maintain the exclusion for religious reasons.

The Mormon church is already talking about breaking away from the organization and forming its own worldwide scouting organization. Currently, the Mormon church serves more than 427,000 boys in over 38,000 units.

Oher denominations as well have become apprehensive about the ending of the ban on gay adults in the organization including the Southern Baptist Convention and the Roman Catholic Church.

But there are still other churches that are excited and looking forward to the change according to Rev. Curtis Price who is with the First Baptist Church of Salt Lake City.

“I’m not going to sponsor an organization that’s going to exclude any of our people based on sexual orientation,” he said.

Price added that being gay doesn’t take away the ability to be a good mentor or teacher for young people.

Lawrence said the new Salt Lake City-based troop would be welcoming not only gay leaders, but a wide range of people from all types of minority groups.

These decisions all follow the Boy Scouts decision in 2013 to allow gay youth, but not gay adults or leaders.



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