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Utah Boy Scouts council wants more time on gays decision

Published February 1, 2013 9:35 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Boy Scouts of America is expected to announce soon whether the organization will allow openly gay members and leaders in its ranks, but a local Utah council is asking for more time before a decision is reached.

The BSA national board will meet next week to revisit their policy regarding its members and their sexual orientation. The proposed change would allow religious and civic groups that sponsor Scout units to decide for themselves whether to continue excluding gays or let them join.

But the Scouts' Great Salt Lake Council wants more time to "consider the consequences," as the council puts it in a statement on their website, of changing the policy.

"We believe that any decision that strikes at the core of our 103-year history merits full input from all stakeholders in deliberation and discussion," the council states. The group also mentions that the issue has been a source of "emotional distress" with many of the council's leaders.

It's a move that could have a dramatic impact on the group's century-old relationship with its top sponsor: the Utah-based LDS Church.

Kay Godfrey, spokesman for council, said earlier this week that he was unaware of the proposal until reading it in the news but acknowledged that the question of gay members "is a major issue with regards to this state and our supporting organizations and a major change for the Boy Scouts."

Godfrey said that all the large sponsoring organizations have given input on the issue, but the spokesman had "no insight on how they responded."

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which got its Scouting charter in 1913, declined to comment Monday, saying it would be "inappropriate" to do so until a decision is reached.

The 14 million-member LDS Church has 420,977 youths in 37,882 Scouting units.

Scouting officials drew widespread criticism in recent months for ousting Jennifer Tyrrell, a lesbian mom, as a den leader of her son's Cub Scout pack in Ohio and for refusing to approve an Eagle Scout application by Ryan Andresen, a California teen who came out as gay last fall.

mmcfall@sltrib.com

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