ATLANTA -- They were a few dozen parents and scouts out of the 34,000 represented by the 17 counties of the Atlanta Area Council. But they were adamant that the Boy Scouts could be on the verge of a crippling mistake-allowing local groups to admit gays. Several troop leaders said they would have to disband.
"We don't see how we can be part of a national organization that refuses to hold to a moral standard, or shifts that moral standard based on the vocal minority of a few people," said Troop 317 Scoutmaster Luke Vancleave.
The vote taken by more than a thousand Boy Scout leaders will happen at a Dallas meeting on May 23rd. According to CNN, 70% of scout groups are sponsored by churches. Vancleave said the scripturally-based moral code of both the churches and the scouts will not allow for homosexuality. They say it goes against scouting values like cleanliness, reverence and morality.
"I don't think the boy scouts will be what they're supposed to be if this decision happens," said scout Bruce Weatherly. He said if the vote goes the way of including gay people, he'll stop a few months shy of reaching the Eagle Scout Level.
The Atlanta Area Council took no stance on the vote before it takes place. But they hoped they wouldn't see a change in membership.
"What we're hopeful is that the people will realize that the important mission of scouting is providing opportunities to youth, and that can be done regardless of what happens with this policy," said Council board member Floyd Newton III.
The gay community in Atlanta is also watching the vote carefully. They said the policy of inclusion would allow people who have never interacted with those with different sexual orientations to open their eyes.
"I think this is a progression, and I'm honestly not going to have many conversations with the folks that think this is going to lead to moral decay," said Linda Ellis, who has a son going into scouting. "What I'm going to do is help my kids and my family live out their lives."