RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)–The Boy Scouts of America said Wednesday that it will wait until May to reconsider its policy barring openly gay people from participating in the organization.
The Boy Scouts said they have received an outpouring of feedback from the American public dealing with the topic, and want to take more time to reach a decision.
Perhaps one of the oldest people to give his opinion is Richmonder 95-year-old Guy Kinman.
In 1985, Kinman became a pioneer in the Richmond gay rights movement when he led a billboard campaign encouraging others to accept homosexuality. Inspired by a similar project in Roanoke, Kinman helped raise the funds to post 11 billboards with a message that read;
“Someone you know is gay, maybe someone you love.”
On Wednesday, Kinman phoned the Boys Scouts of America to voice his opinion.
“I was a Boy Scout from 1931 until 1935, and then I became a Junior Scout Master,” Kinman says. Kinman later served as a chaplain to the scouts.
He says homosexuality was not accepted, let alone talked about 80 years ago.
“We thought you should never acknowledge it,” Kinman recollected.
While Kinman didn’t reveal his homosexuality until he was 55-years-old, he said most young people begin struggling with their sexual orientation in their teens. He fears the repercussions if the scouts refuse to acknowledge gay scouts and scout leaders.
“Suicide is one of the predominant causes of death in young people,” Kinman argued. “If people by their own faith cannot talk with boys and girls about this and figure out a way not to put a guilt kick on them, they are endangering the children’s lives.”
While Kinman said he’s eager to see change in the scout’s policy, he added that he’s relieved the organization has postponed its decision until May. He says lifting the ban is the right decision, but one that needs thoughtful consideration.
The 95-year-old jokes that he’s still looking for the right person, but said he’s found contentment in helping others who are struggling to feel accepted.
“The Boy Scouts should face up to this an inevitable,” Kinman said. “They should face up to the fact that this change, if accepted in the right way, leads to wholesome lives and good citizens.”