|Updated: 1/29/2013 10:03 am
||Published: 1/28/2013 2:47 pm
The Boys Scouts of America is considering a dramatic change in its controversial policy of excluding gays as leaders and youth members.
Under the change being considered, the different religious and civic groups that sponsor Scout units would be able to decide for themselves how to address the issue, either maintaining an exclusion of gays or opening up their membership.
The announcement of the possible change came Monday after years of protests over the policy, including petition campaigns that have prompted some corporations to suspend donations to the Boy Scouts.
In Tulsa, this decision could affect people like Dennis Neill who spent most of the late 60s scouting.
“It was a huge part of my youth development. I was very involved in boy scouting, I was on the camp staff of our summer camp for a number of years,” he told FOX23.
To this day, Neill is still proud of all he accomplished.
“I was an Eagle Scout, Guard of the Country and a Vigil Member of the Order of the Arrow.”
Neill is also proudly and openly gay. He is one of the biggest supporters for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender equality in Tulsa. For years, that's been at odds with the Boy Scouts of America's policies.
After Monday’s announcement, that could soon change.
“I think what's probably surprising is how long it’s taken for the dialogue to reach this level,” Neill said.
If this ban is eliminated by the Boy Scouts of America it would be possible for scout groups to meet in the Equality Center named after Dennis Neill in downtown Tulsa.
“I am so pleased for the Boy Scouts, and I am so pleased for our nation.”
Neill agrees with the Boy Scouts possibly turning the decision about allowing gays in their troops to each individual scouting unit.
“It recognizes their right, which the United States Supreme Court has upheld, to deny membership to people that may openly express themselves as gay.”
He says many churches and groups are open and accepting and believe good leaders, and good scouts, come from all walks of life.
“We want good role models. Role models come from various professions, sexual orientations, various races.”