Mark Gromley says the controversy surrounding the Boy Scouts of America and its policy regarding the ban on gay members strays away from what the organization is about.
Gromley, president of the area’s Boy Scouts of America Conquistador Council, associates the scouts with leadership, camping and merit badges, not the sexual orientation of the parents involved.
“It takes attention away from what we need to be doing,” Gromley said.
But he’s well aware that the national executive board of the BSA may announce this week a change to its long-standing policy against openly gay members, a landmark decision that Gromley says he’s not sure how parents will react to.
“I’ve had a few people talk to me about the possible change,” said Gromley, whose council represents the southeastern corner of New Mexico. “The people I have talked to aren’t in favor of the (change to) membership.”
The board began three days of closed meetings Monday that are expected to include a discussion of the policy, possibly turning over control of the issue to individual troops, according to The Associated Press.
In recent months, the BSA has faced accusations of an unjust policy.
“The national board is the governing body for the entire country,” Gromley said. “They’re the ones who set that standard.”
If the national board does let troops individually decide whether to allow gay membership, Gromley says he’s unsure who will adopt a new policy or leave things as is.
“We’re just a support group to provide guidance for the area,” Gromley said about the council. “Whoever is the sponsoring organization of that unit, they’re the ones who select the leadership.”
Gromley added that while he’s recently heard personal concerns from parents and other members of the community, he feels there are people arguing for both sides and many people simply have no interest in the sexual orientation of members.
“It will be interesting to see what steps they take next,” Gromley said of the board.
Whatever the national organization or individual troops decide, Gromley said the focus should be on scouts and maximizing their scouting experience.
“It’s our job to make sure we provide the highest quality program for the boys of our area,” Gromley said.
According to AP, rallies continued Monday from current and former scouts, leaders and their supporters, outside the organization’s national headquarters in Irving, Texas. The crowd was armed with four boxes of what they said were 1.4 million signatures on a petition opposing the Scouts’ current policy.