Boy Scouts may end ban on gays - FOX 13 News

Boy Scouts may end ban on gays

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

The Boy Scouts of America is considering a dramatic shift from it's most controversial policy: banning gay scouts and scout leaders.

"I think it's called doing the right thing. It's time. It's really time," said Scott Kluksdahl, who grew up in a scouting family and became an Eagle Scout, the group's highest rank.

"I remember hearing rumors when I was going through the scouts that if they ever found out you were homosexual, you would lose your vigil in the ‘Order of the Arrow,' and gay was not good," Kluksdahl says.

And the result, he says, is damaging.

"What that does is push young gay boys, as myself, into a place of shame and secrecy," Kluksdahl said.

Just seven months ago, the Boy Scouts affirmed the ban and appeared to have strong backing from conservative religious denominations. But now the scouts could end the decades-long ban as early as next week.

Instead, the decision would be left up to the different religious and civic groups that sponsor troops on the local level.

"I think it's a good thing. It's something I personally think should've been done long ago," says former Scout Master and active Troop Committee Member Brian Fitzgerald.

He and his sons have spent 13 years with their Boy Scout troop in South Tampa. He says the ban hurts everyone.

"Local councils and troops have really had some negative results from it with the loss of lots of corporate sponsorships, donations, loss of access to some public parks and things like that. And quite honestly, the loss of a lot of good potential talent for adult leaders in local troops,"

Fitzgerald said.

Potential leaders like Kluksdahl. He says local scouts asked him to get involved but he couldn't because of the ban.

"I would like to see the Boy Scouts of America take a real stand. But in the meantime it's a step in the right direction. So, fingers crossed," Kluksdahl said.

Even though the Boy Scouts would no longer have a national policy regarding gay members, individual troops could still exclude them, if that's what their sponsor chooses to do.

The Boy Scouts of America's board of directors votes on the proposed change next week.

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