RICHMOND, Va (WTVR) — A national protest of the Boy Scouts of America has made its way to Richmond. The group known as “On My Honor” is protesting a proposal to lift the longstanding ban of openly gay scouts.
Under the proposal from the Boy Scouts’ executive committee, membership would no longer be denied solely because of sexual orientation. A vote on the issue scheduled for next week.
Protests are being held in 40 cities across the nation. In Richmond, protesters gathered outside the of the headquarters of the Richmond Council of the Boy Scouts of America on Fitzhugh Street.
“We want to leave sex and politics out of the scouts,” Brenda Levy, who helped organize the protest in Richmond, said.
Levy said that in the more than 100-year history of the Boy Scouts of America, the organization has made a positive impact on many scouts who are homosexual. Her concern is that changing the policy would change the nature of scouting.
On the other hand, those who support lifting the longstanding ban on openly gay scouts said the proposal does not go far enough.
Rev. Robin Gorsline, a gay rights advocate in Richmond, said he’s known many homosexual men whose lives were enriched by what they learned in scouts.
Rev. Gorsline is concerned with the portion of the new policy that would still bar openly gay men from becoming scout leaders.
“Gay young men can grow up to be scouts, but they can’t become scout leaders,” said Gorsline about the proposal. “That doesn’t make any sense at all.”
The voting membership of the Boys Scouts of America is scheduled to vote on the proposal on May 23.
According to officials at the Richmond Council, no employees are allowed to vote. A delegation of more than 1,400 volunteers associated with the scouts nationwide will decide on the proposal.
“We as a council don’t have a position on it. We are to remain neutral,” said Todd Martin, Deputy Scout Director for the Richmond Council.
Martin said they will send four representatives to vote next week. The Richmond Council has also held multiple town hall discussions on the topic in an effort to gauge the community’s response to the proposal, according to Martin.
“It’s something that America is struggling with and the current battlefield is the Boy Scouts of America,” said Martin, who added they are waiting to see how the vote goes next week.