The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

July 18, 2012

Local Boy Scout council to heed national policy of barring gays

MANKATO — Although Minnesota’s largest Boy Scout council said it won’t adhere to the national organization’s reaffirmation of its stance regarding homosexuals, the council serving the Mankato region will continue to heed the policy of the Boy Scouts of America.

“We just follow national policy. We don’t try to create our own policy,”  said Paul Wilkinson, head of the Twin Valley Council serving 15 southern Minnesota counties.

Officials of the Texas-based national organization said this week they unanimously agreed to maintain the long-standing policy of barring leaders, employees and members who are open or avowed homosexuals.

In a prepared statement the officials said that after a two-year research and review period, they determined that maintaining the policy remains in the best interests of scouting and reflects the beliefs of its members.

However, Boy Scouts of America Chief Scout Executive Bob Mazzuca acknowledged that opinions can differ within scouting’s ranks.

“While a majority of our membership agrees with our policy, we fully understand that no single policy will accommodate the many diverse views among our membership or society,” he said in an Associated Press story.

Following the national announcement, Minnesota’s Northern Star Council said it will continue to follow its 12-year-old “inclusive leadership selection” practice that welcomes homosexuals in its troops.

Northern Star Council spokesman Kent York told the Star Tribune that every council is reflective of its community, and that Northern Star’s  inclusion policy has “worked for us.”

Northern Star has 75,000 scouts in Minnesota and western Wisconsin and is the largest of Minnesota’s six Boy Scout councils.

Twin Valley Council serves 3,000 scouts, and Wilkinson said there has  been no discussion pertaining to the topic of homosexuality within the organization.

“It’s never been an issue here. We try not to get into social issues of any kind.”

The Boy Scouts of America statement went on to say that “good people can personally disagree on this topic and still work together to achieve the life-changing benefits to youth through Scouting.”

The Minnesota and national Girl Scouts organizations allow lesbian members and troop leaders to serve.

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