By Lia Kananipuamaeole Kamana
Ingham County Chronicle staff writer
Last week the Boy Scouts of America announced that it is considering an end to the organization’s ban on gay troop leaders and scouts. A national board meeting in May will decide the issue. If the board were to decide to lift the ban on gays, it would still leave the final decisions on membership and leadership up to the individual troops and sponsors.
“I believe it would cause animosity and trouble amongst troops that are OK with it and those that aren’t,” said Irfan Mir, a current MSU junior majoring in neuroscience, who once was a part of Troop 164 in Okemos, Mich.
Tyler Beck used to be in Troop 292 of Kalamazoo, Michigan
Tyler Beck, a junior at Michigan State University who was involved with Troop 292 in Kalamazoo prior to it moving, said that the he believes the lift of the ban would cause problems with older members and sponsors.
There are currently 290 local governing councils and 116,000 sponsoring religious and civic groups involved with the Boy Scouts, with different views on the issue. For some organizations and charities that sponsor the Boy Scouts, it is against their non-discrimination requirements and they have decided to stop offering financial aid until the ban is lifted. Other organizations say they would stop offering funding and sponsorships if the ban is lifted.
Currently there are 24 troops within Ingham County all chartered to different organizations throughout the county.
Reverend Andrew Pomerville of the People’s Church in East Lansing, the sponsor of Troop 2 in East Lansing said, “I’d like to offer no comment on the BSA policy changes.”
The committee chair and scoutmaster of Troop 2 did not respond to emails on the issue either.
Mir said that two big sponsors of the organization are the Church of Latter Day Saints and the Catholic Church and he feels that due to this, many scouts “fear” homosexuality.
“We had a member of my troop that reached Senior Patrol Leader (highest normal troop-rank of a minor) and he left after coming out of the closet,” said Mir.
Three principles taught in Boy Scouts are to be physically fit, mentally awake and morally straight.
“I always used to laugh at the “straight” part because something inside me told me that they were obscurely and discreetly referring to their preference for heterosexuality,” said Mir.
“As a private organization, the BSA should be able to do as they wish with membership. I do not believe they should restrict gay scouts from joining, as the Boy Scout experience should be open to all young men,” said Beck.
Ending the national ban will spark change within the BSA. There will be sponsors leaving and joining the organization, troops will have to make decisions with their current sponsor or possible new sponsor and parents will have to research troops and their sponsors prior to joining to make sure the troop embodies what they like.
“I think lifting the ban will better the organization once it has had time to adapt and will help to combat any prejudice against homosexuals,” said Beck, “leaving the decision up to individual troops may slow the process, however it only takes a spark to get a fire of acceptance going.”