Scout leaders discuss allowing gay members
by Lindsay Field
February 10, 2013 12:41 AM | 2238 views | 3 3 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
MARIETTA — One Smyrna Boy Scout leader said regardless of what the Boy Scouts of America National Board of Directors decides about allowing gays to participate in the organization, each unit can still decide what it wants to do.

“Each troop is owned by a chartered organization,” said Jim Cook, who has worked with Boy Scouts for more than 12 years. “(Troop 11 in Smyrna) is chartered by Smyrna First United Methodist Church, and we would still have to follow our church’s rules. The same thing goes for the Baptist churches, Seventh Day Adventist or the Elks Club.”

Cook said there is still the ability for each unit to be independent when it comes to how to apply policies.

“We can choose to accept someone or not accept someone,” he said.

Last week the BSA National Board of Directors announced that they were postponing a decision on whether to allow gay boys or men to become members or serve as leaders until its annual meeting in May. At that time, approximately 1,400 members on the national council will have the opportunity to vote on the policy changes.

Jeff Fulcher, the spokesman with the Atlanta Area Council Boy Scouts of America housed in Cobb, released a statement on behalf of the local organization’s Board of Directors on Wednesday.

“After extensive meetings and discussion, the volunteers that make up the National Board of Directors have decided to continue discussion of its current leadership policy,” the release stated. “While many stakeholders will continue this discussion on a national level, our priority is serving as many Atlanta youth as possible with the best leadership development program and once-in-a-lifetime adventures.”

Fulcher said the Atlanta Area Council serves 34,412 Scouts in 13 counties in and around Atlanta. They represent 816 scouting units, including Cub Scout Packs, Boy Scout Troops, Venturing Crews, Explorer Posts and Learning for Life Groups. He was not sure exactly how many troops or Scouts are participating in Cobb alone.

Cook is a Scout Master and works with 17 young men from the Smyrna area, but has served as an assistant Scout Master and unit commissioner, which is responsible for several units, in the past.

“I don’t necessarily know if I have any boys in my troop that are gay or not,” he said. “We have our standards, we practice safe scouting and we go to great pains to make sure that there are always two adults at a time with any of our scouts.”

Cook said that at the beginning of each year, he “lays down the law” about how each Scout deserves his own privacy.

“We teach them that privacy is very important, and we teach them that if anything happens, they are supposed to talk to me or the senior level boy, and tell him or me what happened, and we take action immediately,” he said.

Cook also said that Boy Scout Troop 11, which is chartered by Smyrna First United Methodist Church, is all inclusive.

“It may be different across the street, but we just treat everyone equally here, and everyone follows the same rules,” he said.

He originally got involved in Boy Scouts for his son, who is now out of high school.

“It just makes for a very well-rounded boy,” Cook said. “You spend time out in the woods away from the video games, you learn to cook and you learn to take care for yourself and others. The Scout skills are just wonderful.”
Comments-icon Post a Comment
February 10, 2013
Unfortunately Mr. Cook, I fear you are naive to believe that once the fox is in the henhouse that your troop will not be forced to follow the National organization. There is no way that you nor your church will be able to withstand the threat of a long legal battle. There is "strength in numbers" and once the National office gives in, the BSA will succumb and within ten years it will cease to exist.
Too funny
February 11, 2013
Please map out the analysis for us that points to the BSA ceasing to exist simply because they choose to no longer discriminate.
February 10, 2013
Do they really still not know the difference between a gay person and a child rapist?

If they don't, please just shut down the whole boy scouts industry. Nobody capable of so much denial should be anywhere near children!
*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, and spam will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides