Boy Scouts and their families in the Seattle area are celebrating this week’s national decision to allow gay scout leaders. But not all local troops will be implementing the changes.
Troop Leader Brian Pratt came to the Seattle office of the Boy Scouts on Monday to show his support for the change. He says the conservative position of the national Boy Scouts organization has been an embarrassment.
“You know I used to be someone ashamed to be seen in this uniform," he said. "You know I worry that my older son Ben here who recently got his Eagle Scout, really stepped into a tarnished brand.”
But after the Boy Scouts decision to allow gay scout leaders, he says: “Scouting is now 50 percent less embarrassing to be involved with.”
Eagle Scout Liam Easton-Calabria wants to be a scout leader. Before, he couldn’t, because he’s gay.
“And it just made me pretty upset to learn that I wouldn’t be able to do what my dad was doing, what all his friends were doing in the troop," he said. "It felt pretty unfair.”
His twin brother, August, also felt it was unfair and started a petition on Change.org asking Rob McKenna, former state attorney general and president of the Chief Seattle Council of the Boy Scouts of America, to support changing the national policy.
Now, Liam will be able to lead a troop someday. At least, so long as his troop isn’t affiliated with a conservative church.
An estimated 71 percent of troops meet in churches. Nobody’s forcing those troops to appoint gay troop leaders.
Mark Durben helps lead a troop at the LDS Church in Port Townsend. He says it’s just his opinion, but he doesn’t think his church will appoint a gay troop leader. He says his church’s policy should be more "Don’t ask, don’t tell."
“The kids should never ask what you do in your personal life, and adults should never express their sexual orientation with children," Durben said. "We’re supposed to be helping kids learn merit badges and do things outdoors, not teach them sexual orientation.”
Local Boy Scout officials say they hope this decision will finally put this issue to rest. They say it’s been a distraction from what Boy Scouts is all about – building fires and developing leaders.