Just months after the Boy Scouts of America reaffirmed its national policy to keep gay members out, the group will consider lifting the ban in a meeting this week. While the move has gratified many critics, it has alarmed some longtime sponsors, including churches and civic organizations, who say that lifting the ban would go against their values. Kojo explores the new questions a national policy shift would pose for local scouts, their sponsors and their parents.

Guests

  • Todd Leavitt Eagle Scout; Urban Design Consultant; parent
  • David Crary National Writer, The Associated Press
  • Alvin Townley Author of "Legacy of Honor:The Values and Influence of America's Eagle Scouts" (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Press); Eagle Scout

Transcript

  • 13:25:28

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIThis week the Boy Scouts of America will decide whether to end its national ban on gay members. The BSA has vigorously defended that policy for years. And a little more than a decade ago the Supreme Court backed it up, ruling that the privately-run organization was not subject to antidiscrimination laws. But the times they are a changing. And the pressure to change along with them, whether from corporate sponsors, parents or even President Obama himself has been unrelenting.

  • 13:25:58

    MR. KOJO NNAMDIThe new policy would leave it to local chapters to determine if gay people can participate. But that puts the churches and nonprofits that sponsor Scouts in a sticky spot. Joining us to have this conversation in our Washington studio is Todd Leavitt. He is an Eagle Scout. He's Urban Design consultant and a parent living in Takoma Park, Md. Todd Leavitt, thank you for joining us.

  • 13:26:19

    MR. TODD LEAVITTThank you, Kojo.

  • 13:26:20

    NNAMDIJoining us from the AP radio studios in New York is David Crary. He is a national writer for the Associated Press covering national social issues. David Crary, thank you for joining us.

  • 13:26:32

    MR. DAVID CRARYYeah, good afternoon. Nice to be here, Kojo.

  • 13:26:34

    NNAMDIAnd joining us from the studios of Gordon Communications in Park City, Utah is Alvin Townley, author of "Legacy of Honor: The Values and Influence of America's Eagle Scouts." He is also an Eagle Scout. Alvin Townley, thank you for joining us.

  • 13:26:50

    MR. ALVIN TOWNLEYKojo, it's always great to be with you.

  • 13:26:51

    NNAMDIWe're going to discuss what this policy shift means for kids, parents and the scouting experience and whether it really changes anything at the local level. David, I'll start with you. This week the national board of the Boy Scouts will weigh whether to end its longtime national ban on gay members. Can you give us some background on this development, David, especially since just six months ago the Scouts reaffirmed its national ban.

  • 13:27:15

    CRARYYeah, in the six months since then, Kojo, I think the Boy Scout leadership has realized that the heavy pressure they're under is only going to intensify that there's just not going to be any respite. A couple of big corporations, UPS and the Merck Pharmaceutical Company cut off their funding to the scouts that they would continue to withhold funding as long as this ban stayed in place.

  • 13:27:41

    CRARYThere were petition campaigns over some gay scout leaders being booted out of the scouts. So a lot of pressure. The leadership clearly decided it was time to reconsider. But now they're in a predicament. They're getting pressure from both the left and the right. And it's hard to see how they're going to come out of this week with an ending that's going to satisfy everybody.

  • 13:28:04

    NNAMDIIn our region some Boy Scout troops have openly defied the ban. A Silver Spring, Md. troop recently made headlines for publicly rejecting the ban on its websites. There have been some high profile national stories of how this ban has been used against members of the Boy Scouts also, David. Can you tell us a couple of those?

  • 13:28:22

    CRARYYeah, there was an Eagle Scout applicant out in California. He'd done, as best I understand it, all of the criteria for getting his Eagle Scout. But also let it be known that he was gay. And the regional leadership out there said, no we can't give you your Eagle Scout because you're gay. And that aroused a lot of protests and petitions. But that's the kind of policy that has been going on and the kind of policy that a lot of people would like to see changed.

  • 13:28:48

    NNAMDI800-433-8850 is the number, if you'd like to join this conversation. You mentioned it briefly, David, but maybe you can talk a little bit more about what this has -- what has the impact of the ban been on major contributions to the Boy Scouts?

  • 13:29:04

    CRARYThere's been an effort to identify big companies that give money to the Boy Scouts. Some of the people hoping the policy will change have done a lot of research on that. And then when they find that definitely Company XY is giving money to the Scouts they've been getting petitions signed asking them to cut them off. Intel, UPS and Merck have done so. And I think that kind of pressure will continue.

  • 13:29:27

    CRARYOn the other hand, whether this proposed local option change will ease that pressure remains to be seen. The human rights campaign, one of the major gay rights groups says they want the Scouts to go all the way, make a nondiscrimination policy nationwide. And that if they don't do that the pressure on corporations would continue. So it could be a long running saga.

  • 13:29:50

    NNAMDIWell, this meeting of the Boy Scouts will end on Wednesday, February the 6th, but the fact that they made the announcement about the reconsideration of the ban last week, does that pretty much mean it's a done deal, David? When will we know for sure?

  • 13:30:08

    CRARYWell, that's a good question, Kojo. Some people feel it is a done deal, that it's a fait accompli. They were consulting with their big religious sponsors beforehand quietly, the Catholics, the Mormon Church, the Southern Baptists. And there is a school of thought that they wouldn't have been doing these consultations and then leaking publicly unless they had made up their minds. However, there's been a lot of pressure coming in the last few days, phone calls going into Boy Scout headquarters. Some conservative groups saying don't lift the ban.

  • 13:30:39

    CRARYSo who know what's going to go on behind closed doors this week? They say they will announce their decision on Wednesday and it'll be interesting to see what they do.

  • 13:30:47

    NNAMDI800-433-8850 is the number to call if you'd like to join the conversation. How do you feel about the Boy Scouts likely ending its national ban on gay members, or do you think private youth organizations should be able to make their own membership policies, 800-433-8850? We did contact the National Area Capital Council of the Boy Scouts, the body that governs our region Scouts, but they declined to participate.

  • 13:31:13

    NNAMDIAlvin Townley, as a lifelong Scout and author of a book on scouting and an independent voice for scouting, how do you think this ban on gay membership has affected the image of the Boy Scout and what it does for kids?

  • 13:31:25

    TOWNLEYYou know, Kojo, I think the real unfortunate thing that's been lost in this nationwide debate is that scouting is really not an organization. It's not a board of directors that's meeting in Irving, Texas right now. Scouting is this wonderful vibrant grassroots movement of wonderful dedicated volunteers of devoted alumni, of inspiring scouts who are teenagers, you know, learning to be better citizens. And I think those people, those scouts, those people in our local communities who we know that are involved in scouting, you know, they are scouting.

  • 13:31:57

    TOWNLEYWhat's going on at the national level with this policy is not really scouting. And I hope America just remembers that and remembers that those young scouts out there that are working hard in this program really deserve everyone's support.

  • 13:32:09

    NNAMDINationally, Alvin, boy scouting membership is down 20 percent since 1999 and continues to fall. What do you see is the reasons behind the decline?

  • 13:32:18

    TOWNLEYWe've lost membership consistently since the '90s and for ten straight years. And there are a number of reasons. I think the policy is certainly one of them. I think America has begun to questions a little bit what this value-based institution of scouting really stands for. And I think we need to seize this opportunity to reengage with America and really define again all the wonderful things that we stand for. And clearly this policy has been a problem for us

  • 13:32:46

    TOWNLEYBut I also believe that scouting needs to re-imagine itself for the modern age, for this century, for today's America for the diversity of families that are part of our wonderful country. And I think we need to go further, not just to address this problem and not just to open our big tent to more people, but really to reinvent -- not reinvent scouting but re-imagine it and take some important steps to improve our program, to improve our organization, to deliver better more relevant programs to today's youth and families.

  • 13:33:15

    NNAMDITodd Leavitt, there's been a very public online campaign for the highest ranking scouts, Eagle Scouts to turn in their Eagle awards if they disagree with this ban on gays. You attained the rank of Eagle Scouts when you were growing up in Baton Rouge, La. You also happen to be gay. Have you ever considered turning in your Eagle over this policy?

  • 13:33:35

    LEAVITTI have to say my position is evolving on it. I haven't really, you know, I guess because I've had so many other things going on, just raising kids and things like that, that that wasn't, like, the top of my bucket list. But, you know, it's something I would consider. It's also something I know I worked really hard for and I value. And I value the experiences that I had in Scouts. I mean, it kind of made me -- helped make me who I am today. So I can understand certainly people doing that and that's a form of protest. I may have other ways of doing it just being sort of outspoken.

  • 13:34:09

    NNAMDIWhat was it like growing up in the Boy Scouts in Baton Rouge? How did sexuality or sexual preference play into the interactions among Scouts and Scout troop leaders in your troop, if at all?

  • 13:34:21

    LEAVITTWell, I mean, this was, you know, back in the late '70s, early '80s and pretty much, you know, it's a very homophobic sort of environment. But that was sort of typical I think of all kids that age in that era. So there was -- you know, nobody was known to be gay or, you know, if it was it was sort of this thing that was ridiculed. So, you know, it was a very different sort of environment than I believe is today pervasive in a lot of troops.

  • 13:34:48

    NNAMDI800-433-8850 is the number to call. Have you considered enrolling your child in Boy Scouts but had some reservations because of its policies, 800-433-8850? Let's go to John in Rockville, Md. John, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:35:03

    JOHNHi, Kojo. There's been some talk about religious sponsors for certain troops sort of putting pressure on their decision. And I was wondering if there had been any talk about sponsors like schools or other institutions that might have nondiscrimination policies making their troops go towards a more accepting position. I'm an Eagle Scout and my troop was sponsored by a school. And I think my school district would probably take that kind of action if the decision is left up to the individual troops.

  • 13:35:35

    NNAMDIAlvin Townley, what say you?

  • 13:35:39

    TOWNLEYWell, John, I think the religious sponsors of scouting tend to be the largest. So LDS Church of example I think sponsors over 400,000 scouts, Methodist Church over 300,000, Catholic Church around 2 or 300,000. So they tend to have the biggest consolidated voice in this. And I believe that there are a lot of smaller but equally important sponsors of scouting. So you mentioned schools, rotary clubs, Civitan, all sorts of -- firehouses, all sorts of different community level sponsors. They just aren't quite as organized and have as unified a voice on this. But I hope that they'll make their own opinions heard.

  • 13:36:13

    TOWNLEYAnd certainly within the religious groups that sponsor scouting there's a tremendous diversity of opinion on this issue as well. So scouting has a -- or the organization itself has a tough job to try and keep this coalition together. But we've been a diverse coalition for 100 years. We've had Muslims and Christians and Jews all in the same organization and all in the same movement. And I hope that we'll continue to be a beacon of unity in what's really an ever more polarized world.

  • 13:36:41

    NNAMDIHey, Alvin, for people who might be interested, can you talk a little bit about how scouting groups are set up?

  • 13:36:46

    TOWNLEYSo unlike the Girl Scouts of America, the Boy Scouts of America incorporated this organization headquartered in Irving, Texas. They don't actually own their scout units. Scouting was conceived as a program that community institutions could use to develop their youth. So churches and civic groups sponsor scout -- I should say charter scout troops. And so they really own these units. And, you know, what I think the national organization's moving towards, and what a lot of people would like to see, is not a monolithic national policy on a clearly divisive issue, but rather some local autonomy.

  • 13:37:24

    TOWNLEYLet parents who are closest to -- the scouts who are closest to these individual units, of which there are about 114,000 around the country, let them ensure that their scout is going to have a safe and a positive scouting experience.

  • 13:37:39

    NNAMDIThank you for your call. David, what has been the public reaction to this policy shift by churches and other organizations that sponsor Boy Scouts?

  • 13:37:48

    CRARYIt really follows a political line. So a couple of the more liberal denominations have welcomed it. Even the Methodists, which are divided on a lot of ideological issues, have said that they would like to see the ban lifted. The Southern Baptist leadership has been very angry, in fact threatened to encourage their churches to send families elsewhere if the ban is lifted. They want the ban to stay.

  • 13:38:13

    CRARYThe big question marks, Kojo, I think are what the Catholic leadership is going to do and what the Mormon LDS leadership is going to do. They, as Alvin said, sponsor many, many scout troops. They preach that homosexuality is immoral but they have yet to speak out on what they're going to do if the Boy Scouts change their policy. That will be very interesting. Will they try to dictate a national policy to all their troops? Will they leave some sort of local option for Catholic parishes for example? So I'll be very curious what those two denominations do as this decision plays.

  • 13:38:47

    NNAMDIHere's Bruce in Washington, D.C. Bruce, your turn.

  • 13:38:50

    BRUCEWell, a lot of what I was going to ask about the program splitting has now been covered kind of by the last two callers. But I do have a question in that do any of the panelists think that the gay community is going to step up and try and support scouting in terms of money or as chartering new units to help maybe give back, since they've been fighting this fight for so long.

  • 13:39:15

    NNAMDIWhat do you think, Todd Leavitt?

  • 13:39:16

    LEAVITTI don't know if there would be the -- there may be the organizational skills to -- and groups enough for people to do that. I mean, this is such an -- on an individual level in many troops, I think that may be a difficult thing to do. But it's not out of the question.

  • 13:39:33

    NNAMDIThank you very much for your call, Bruce. Todd, you and your partner have two daughters who are both in the Girl Scouts in Takoma Park. How do the Girl Scouts policies differ from the Boy Scouts?

  • 13:39:42

    LEAVITTI mean, there's no ban on gay people serving or -- you know, I'm very active in the girls' troop. So it's not an issue for them.

  • 13:39:53

    NNAMDIAlvin, that's just one of the differences between the Girl Scouts and the Boy Scouts, correct?

  • 13:39:59

    TOWNLEYThat's certainly one. You know, and the way the Boy Scouts policy on behavior and youth protection's really written is that, you know, we leave it up to the local troops and the troop committees and the charter partners to, you know, determine behavior that's counterproductive to a positive scouting environment. And when that behavior occurs, you know, we empower local folks to take care of that and address it, except in the instance of homosexuality.

  • 13:40:25

    TOWNLEYAnd so really we're just talking about getting rid of that one blanket prohibition and just, again, empowering the local level to make these kind of decisions. And I think everyone that I've spoken with wants every family in America to be able to find a scout unit where their child can thrive, and I think that's where those of us that really love scouting want to see this move.

  • 13:40:46

    NNAMDIGot to take a short break. If you have called, stay on the line. We will get to your call. If the lines are busy, shoot us an email to kojo@wamu.org or send us a tweet @kojoshow, or go to our website, kojoshow.org and join the conversation there. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

  • 13:42:42

    NNAMDIWelcome back. We're having a conversation on revoking the gay ban in the Boy Scouts. We're talking with Todd Leavitt. He is an Eagle Scout. He is an urban design consultant and a parent living in Takoma Park, Md. Alvin Townley is author of "Legacy of Honor: The Values and Influence of America's Eagle Scouts." He is also an Eagle Scout. And David Crary is a national writer for the Associated Press who covers national social issues.

  • 13:43:06

    NNAMDIWe're inviting your calls at 800-433-8850. Do you think the Boy Scouts should have a Don't Ask Don't Tell policy, or should it be more clear cut? 800-433-8850. Before I go back to the phones, David, the Boy Scouts has also long excluded atheists from its ranks, is this policy also being reconsidered at the meeting this week as far as you know?

  • 13:43:30

    CRARYFascinating question. I asked their national spokesman that very question when the announcement about the gay policy was made on Monday, and he was quite emphatic. He said no, we're keeping that. That's not under reconsideration. We still believe that duty to God is a guiding fundamental principle of the Boy Scouts. So that's not being reconsidered.

  • 13:43:50

    NNAMDIWell, Alvin, when the duty to God comes up in the Boy Scout oath, is a kid rejected from the Scouts if he openly says he's an atheist?

  • 13:44:02

    TOWNLEYThat's the official policy. I think what happens is that in these, you know, 115,000 local units around the country, parents use their good judgment about what's going to create a positive environment and how they want to deliver these values to their young people. And speaking for -- just for me, at my church, if a 14-year-old person was, you know, questioning their faith, I think we would really welcome them into the church and try and show them grace and show them the beauty of faith, versus kicking them out.

  • 13:44:35

    TOWNLEYBut that's just my opinion. I think scouting is certainly divided on this issue. It's just like the homosexuality issue. It ignites a lot of passions, and as we have these discussions, I just hope that people remember that this is youth movement. It's the best youth movement in the country -- in the world, really, and it's just a shame to politicize it, because the kids are the ones that really end up getting hurt.

  • 13:44:57

    NNAMDIAll right. We move back to the telephones. Here is Jennifer in Laurel, Md. Jennifer, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:45:04

    JENNIFERHi. Thank you for taking my call. I just wanted to make a comment. Obviously, being female, I've never been in the scouts myself, but I do know several people who are bisexual or gay who were just discovering their sexual identities while they were in the Scouts, and they had very negative takeaways from the kind of messages that were being emphasized because of the anti-gay policy.

  • 13:45:37

    JENNIFERAnd I'm just listening to the -- the common idea seems to be that everybody is going to get to pick for their own unit of the Scout, and I'm just wondering how is this really going to change anything if, as was mentioned before, something like 70 percent of the Scouts are sponsored by religious organizations. How is this really going to change the underlying problem that's caused all of the human cry over the ban in the first place?

  • 13:46:07

    NNAMDIWell, Todd Leavitt, how would you hope it would change the underlying problem without being certain?

  • 13:46:12

    LEAVITTWell, I mean, if they looked at the fact that they're losing, you know, membership, and then they also look at other examples such as we were talking during the break that the British Scouts which have allowed openly gay members for years, are doing fine, that, you know, I think it's going to have to be sort of like this -- a learning curve for a lot of the troops, and, you know, hopefully it would be something that's broad enough to be inclusive.

  • 13:46:42

    NNAMDIAlvin Townley, allowing local troops to determine their own policies has been called by people, I suspect our caller Jennifer, would be among them, a cop-out by many activists. Is there already a rural/urban divide when it comes to gay members and leaders, and will this new policy only re-emphasize that?

  • 13:47:01

    TOWNLEYIs there a rural/urban, is that what you said, Kojo?

  • 13:47:03

    NNAMDIYes. Yes. When it comes to this issue.

  • 13:47:05

    TOWNLEYYou know, everyone within scouting has their own opinions, and the struggle that our leadership is facing is how to hold this diverse movement together. I think our goal in scouting is to serve as many American youth as possible because we believe in the values of this program and we believe in what it does for young people. And so regardless of what a parent or a chartering organization may believe, I want those kids -- their kids in scouting, and so while I think taking a principle point on saying that scouting ought to be open to everyone, we also have to figure out how to hold this coalition together, and I think that's the struggle that the national organization is really facing.

  • 13:47:48

    TOWNLEYAnd again, I really hope that people on both sides of this issues can tone back the rhetoric. Kojo, I've gotten emails -- I've seen emails that are just crazy from both sides, and I just hope that we can all come together and get under scouting's big tent for the good of our scouts.

  • 13:48:05

    NNAMDIWell, speaking of emails, I'll share two of them with you. The first from Will who says, "I'm an assistant scout master of my son's troop. Despite my objection to the ban on gay members, my 18-year-old son has just gotten his Eagle. I have participated in scouts with great reservations and have voiced my criticism. Still, scouting has been incredibly valuable for my son in many ways. He can do public speaking, provide group leadership, and hike the Appalachian Trail solo, in part because of the support and teaching of the scouting organization.

  • 13:48:34

    NNAMDI"My point here is that Scouts' policies should not be co-opted by any particular point of view due to their particular beliefs. Scouting policy should be about scouting issues, not limited to any group sectarian belief." And this email we got from Tim, who says, "I'm a social liberal and an Eagle Scout, class of '73. I don't see a need for a change of policy. There have always been gay scouts and even scout masters. However, this seems to be an effort to inject sex into what should be an asexual activity. Scouts don't have dances with the Girl Scouts." And the point, I guess, that Tim is making is that you are interjecting sex into an asexual activity in the lives of young boys.

  • 13:49:15

    TOWNLEYScouts might like those dances.

  • 13:49:17

    LEAVITTThis is about, you know, if you're going to be an open organization and you're going to say, you know, we believe in treating people fairly, to do that, and to accept people, and, you know, you're creating all kinds of problems if you're actually excluding whole groups of people, but at the same time you're saying, you know, you're open and you want to be an open organization.

  • 13:49:38

    NNAMDIDavid Crary, you compare this story to the one that rocked the Susan G. Komen Foundation last year. How so?

  • 13:49:45

    CRARYYeah. I see a lot of parallels, Kojo. Susan B. Komen Foundation, the cancer-fighting group, was getting sustained pressure from conservative groups to cut ties with Planned Parenthood, and eventually acquiesced to that pressure and did cut ties, trying to sort of improve relations with the right. Immediately when they did cut ties, it created a huge backlash from the left. They were caught in an absolutely whipsaw for three or four days getting flack from both sides, eventually backtracked, restored their ties with Planned Parenthood, and ended out, I think, dismaying people in both camps.

  • 13:50:25

    CRARYThey lost a lot of admiration and are still digging their way out of that public relations problem. I see the Scouts right now in a somewhat analogous situation because they are getting heavy pressure from the left and right, and I have a feeling that whatever they come up with on Wednesday is going to leave people on both sides disappointed and feeling they didn't get all they wanted. Maybe the Scouts will come through it fine, but I think they're in a difficult spot that does remind me of what Komen went through.

  • 13:50:54

    NNAMDIWell, there are a lot of callers who would like to offer their opinions, so I'll take a few of them, starting with Howard in Columbia, Md. Howard, your turn.

  • 13:51:01

    HOWARDOkay. I've been in scouting for a while with both my sons. I taught them that one of the main goals of scouting is to do your best and to uphold the Constitution. And as far as I can tell, many of the communities are accepting changes, and if it's by the law acceptable, then how I can tell them not to obey the Constitution, and with the local communities support. And they're doing their best. We have them up until they're 18 as Boy Scouts or boys and girls when they become Venturing Scouts, so we're trying to show them lead by example and we just ask them to try and -- they'll make mistakes, but if we don't lead them with a good, you know, example, then I think we're definitely doing a disservice.

  • 13:51:49

    NNAMDIOkay, Howard. Thank you for your call. Here is Diane in Laurel, Md. Diane, your turn.

  • 13:51:54

    DIANEHi. I've been listening to all these talk here about the scouting, and I just want to give my comments here and ask a final question of you, and that is I think we have to remember what's happening -- actually happening here, in that things have to change with the times. We no longer live in the 1930s. This is 2012, and people are being recognized and accepted nowadays for being what they are, being gay, who by the have some wonderful talents and are some of the most creative people I've ever met, more so than straight people, and have wonderful gifts and talents that they can teach to these young boys.

  • 13:52:33

    DIANEI think if you want to get rid of your politics, get rid of the religious sects and the belief sections and just leave it to us, the base and core of what scouting really is about. You know, we have to co-exist, and the Boards need to help out and have a good foundation and basis of that so they can, like you say, develop a good sense of community. You do that by accepting people for their differences and know the difference about the ones that are going to be the bad things that will lead you, say, down a path of criminal-minded thinking as opposed to what you should do...

  • 13:53:14

    NNAMDIDiane, thank you very much for your call. Here now is Henry in Washington D.C. Henry, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:53:23

    HENRYKojo, I couldn't have said it better than the last caller said it. One of the ironies of the perversity of the Scout policy though is that it is help young boys understand something that they tend not to understand the way prior generations did, and that is the evils of discrimination. I have four young grandsons between seven and nine, and two of them won't join scouting for this reason, and two of them have quit being Scouts for this reason. And ironically, these kids are being taught by what the Scouts are doing the evils of discrimination and how to combat it.

  • 13:54:04

    NNAMDIOkay. Thank you very much for your call. Todd, what do you hear from other Takoma Park parents about their reaction to the Boy Scouts' policy?

  • 13:54:11

    LEAVITTWell, Takoma Park's one of those communities that is sort of included next to Silver Spring that actually, you know, allows openly gay members in it. And I have friends who have their sons in the scouting organization, and I think from what I know, a lot of the family is often involved, it's not sometimes the boy. I think the moms are more involved back in my day. But I also have friends that, you know, I've said, you know, Takoma Park, they ignore the ban and I think, you know, your son could probably benefit from Scouts and they won't send them there. So it's kind of a mixed bag.

  • 13:54:48

    NNAMDISo I know the answer to my hypothetical question to you, and that is, if you had boys would you enroll them in the Boy Scouts? Yes. If I could do it in Takoma Park.

  • 13:54:56

    LEAVITTIn Takoma Park, yes.

  • 13:54:57

    NNAMDIThank you very much. Alvin, how do you think changing this policy will impact the mood of the Boy Scouts, especially at national gatherings like the annual jamboree coming up in West Virginia?

  • 13:55:09

    TOWNLEYYou know, however we handle this, I really want everybody to respect the decision that's made and, again, come together for the good of the Scouts, and I keep coming back to that, and that's so important. I want to say something to Henry who called earlier...

  • 13:55:22

    NNAMDIYeah.

  • 13:55:22

    TOWNLEY...saying his two grandsons had left scouting. I hope that he can remember and maybe remind them that, again, scouting is a lot bigger than this policy and that there's certainly a troop, a unit, you know, nearby that he can find, and his grandsons can find where they can have the same great experience that Todd did and that I did, and that I think Todd and I probably agree that we want every kid in America to have.

  • 13:55:48

    LEAVITTYes.

  • 13:55:49

    NNAMDIHere is George in Prince William County, Va. George, you're on the air. Go ahead, please.

  • 13:55:54

    GEORGEThank you. I'm an Eagle Scout. I'm also a cub master and an assistant district commissioner in northern Virginia, and the last speaker just said it perfectly. I believe -- I agree with 98 percent of what Scouts do. You know, the homosexuality ban and things like that, I have issues with, but I think the rest is so more overpowering that, I mean, I -- my son is a Weblo right now. He loves it. I wouldn't dare pull him out because of what he can gain from it. However, my troop, and I can speak for the majority of the units within our district, have a very open and welcoming way of looking at things.

  • 13:56:37

    GEORGEWe are -- a lot of it is church-based, but for, you know, we want all these children to grow up as I did in Scouts, learn from them what we've learned to help make them better human beings. This needs to be overturned, but I'm finding that most of the leaders that I deal with on a daily basis all agree that, you know, this is a national policy, but it's not the way that we're going to run. So regardless, you know, like at Takoma Park, I think if anybody is interested in having their children join Scouts, there are units out there that are very welcoming and will help them achieve whatever they wish to achieve. Thank you.

  • 13:57:19

    NNAMDIGeorge, thank you very much for your call, and I'm afraid that's just about all the time we have. David Crary is a national writer for the Associated Press covering national social issues. David Crary, thank you for joining us.

  • 13:57:33

    CRARYThank you, Kojo. It's been a pleasure.

  • 13:57:35

    NNAMDIAlvin Townley is author of the book "Legacy of Honor: The Values and Influence of America's Eagle Scouts." He is also an Eagle Scout. Alvin Townley, thank you for joining us.

  • 13:57:45

    TOWNLEYPleasure, Kojo. Enjoyed it.

  • 13:57:47

    NNAMDIAnd Todd Leavitt. He is an Eagle Scout. He is an urban design consultant and he's a parent living in Takoma Park, Md. Todd Leavitt, thank you for joining us.

  • 13:57:54

    LEAVITTThank you, Kojo.

  • 13:57:55

    NNAMDIAnd thank you all for listening. I'm Kojo Nnamdi.

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