COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI)-The Boy Scouts of America have been going strong for more than a century. Change has come through the years. Merit badges have been dropped and added, but the organization’s goals haven’t changed. It aims to create honest, hardworking and capable young men.
Recently, the National Council voted to allow openly gay young men to join, and not everyone agrees with that decision.
The new policy goes into effect on January 1st. It allows openly-gay young people to join the Boy Scouts of America. Jeremy Whitmore, a Scout Executive says it will not affect the true meaning behind the organization.
“Our mission has not changed. Our mission is to prepare young people for life and I believe the Boy Scouts of America is best equipped to serve all kids and at best what this policy says is all kids are welcomed in scouting and we want to help prepare them for life,” says Jeremy Whitmore.
Whitmore says this issue has yet to be resolved in our country as a whole. Until that happens, the debate rages on.
“So far we have had two volunteers that have resigned from the Boy Scouts of America over this change, but that’s out of over 360 volunteers we have in our council so again in different parts of the country as this issue because understood better I believe long term the implications will actually be pretty minimal,” says Whitmore.
Sherry Carlstrom, a mother of six, recently enrolled her oldest son in scouts.
“My son is new to Boy Scouting and so we had already processed in our mind that no matter what way the vote went that we were going to stick with scouting. I was disappointed in the way the vote went, but it hasn’t discouraged us from staying in the Boy Scouts because I believe it’s a good program,” says Sherry Carlstrom.
After the vote was final, Sherry sat down with her son to discuss the issue and their family values.
“The policy states and continues to state within the Boy Scouts that a person is to be morally straight. Since scouting is a program that is for young men 18 and under the idea that anyone should be participating in sexual activities is not something that’s encouraged and so that’s definitely how we’re training, I have two sons we’re training them that way,” says Carlstrom.
Ultimately, it’s a question for families to decide. Sherry says there is no better time for leaders to step up.
“The many men that have benefited from the Boy Scouts will not draw themselves back, but will instead go forward and more people will become involved in the troops. More fathers will walk beside their sons as they train them in all of these wonderful life skills that they get in the scouts former eagle scouts will rise up and they’ll come and help out and not everyone will abandoned what is a great program, but people instead will take a positive approach and they will work within the system to encourage young men to become all that they can be,” says Carlstrom.
Out of the 27 local Boy Scout sponsoring organization, one church no longer wants to be a part of the program.
The Boy Scouts of America will maintain its ban on gay adult leaders.