Proposed lift on gay Boy Scout leaders ban stirs reaction

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HARRISBURG, Pa. -- By the end of July, any adult will be able to lead Boy Scouts, no matter their sexual orientation.

The Boy Scouts of America's executive committee adopted a resolution last week that would change its policy on who can lead.

In June, the Supreme Court ruled gay marriage a constitutional right in all states. Now, one of the leading youth organizations in the country is making a change.

Although the two are not related, many people are responding, including a boy scout eagle, whose sexual orientation has kept him from being an active member.

When Sam Gehler turned 18, his eagle status was no longer valid because he is openly gay. Two years ago, his title was reinstated when the Boy Scouts of America allowed gay scouts. And now, he says it makes sense for the organization to allow gay scout leaders.

"The first step toward allowing openly gay people who care about the Boy Scouts like I do myself to be involved with them after they become adults," Gehler said.

Gehler is also the organizing director of Equality Pennsylvania. He says the move would give scouts like him more role models.

"Like many gay men, when I was a boyscout as a teen, I was still coming to terms with who I was and what that could mean and for someone going through that experience now, just knowing there was a place for them regardless of who they love is an incredibly important experience."

The Pennsylvania Family Institute has opposed efforts to legalize same-sex marriage. Pennsylvania Family Institute President, Michael Geer, said the Boy Scout's decision could have consequences.

"If they freely decide to go this direction there will be impacts I think to it, already seeing declining enrollment based on decisions recently this may exacerbate that trend," Geer said.

Geer said parents may instead choose another group for their kids, like Trail Life U.S.A.

"If the Boy Scouts make a change that is something many parents are concerned about or wonder about, that I presume will be a problem for them, but they're a private organization who can make their own decisions," Geer said.

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