When the Knox Trail Boy Scouts Council Board of Directors meets Thursday night, they may vote to take action against the National Boy Scouts anti-gay policy. The Council represents Framingham and 20 other communities in Massachusetts.
The possible vote comes after more than half of the parents of Framingham Cub Scout Pack 12, based out of Plymouth Church, sent a letter in September to the executive director of The Knox Trail Council of Boy Scouts, stating they have and will continue to ignore the anti-gay policy of Boy Scouts of America.
The letter, submitted and signed by 38 Framingham parents states: "Our Scout Pack has been an important and powerful force in our community, and in the lives of our children, parents and guardians who have been involved. Pack 12 has taught us that being a Scout means being inclusive, supportive and standing up for what you believe in. We do not and never will discriminate on the basis of race, religion and sexual orientation. Pack 12 invites the participation of all interested 6- to 11-year old boys and their parents or guardians, without regard to sexual orientation. We urge the Knox Trail Council to adopt a similar stance on behalf of all of the MetroWest area districts."
Knox Trail Council Board wrote in an October newsletter it is "trying to come to terms with the recent reaffirmation by National Boy Scouts of America of its membership standards, which include a policy banning from membership 'open or avowed homosexuals.'
At a meeting in September, the Knox Trail Council Executive Committee discussed the National Boy Scout policy, said Framingham resident Chris Petrini, a member of the executive committee.
The executive committee was "disappointed that National BSA had decided to reaffirm this policy. The Knox Trail Council Executive Committee agreed to review the national BSA policy, seek input from our members, and bring the issue to the full Knox Trail Council Board," it states to Scouts and parents in a newsletter.
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Petrini, who said Scouting played a significant role in his life after his father died, said he is hopeful the Knox Trail Council will take a stance against the National Boy Scout Policy, but there are issues to be resolved.
Petrini, who achieved his Eagle Scout badge, said he personally is disappointed with the national policy, as Scouts have traditionally been "inclusive of all." Even during the civil rights movement, there was never any segregation in Scouting, said Petrini.
Petrini said he believes the biggest issue with the Knox Trail Council taking a stance is not a loss of members, as there is widespread support for the all-inclusive, no discrimination based on religion, race or sexual orientation, model here in Massachusetts; but more that the national Boy Scouts Council could revoke the Knox Council's charter.
It states in the national Scouting bylaws that a charter may be revoked or declined for "failure to comply with the bylaws, rules and regulations."
In 2003, a California Council lost its Boy Scout charter when it refused to adhere to the anti-gay stance of the National Boy Scouts. Back then, Roy L. Williams, a national Scout executive, issued a memo stating that no local council "is permitted to depart from BSA membership policies."
In June of 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June 2000 that Boy Scouts, as a private organization, has the right to ban gay members and leaders.
Both presidential candidates have spoken out against the national Boy Scout policy.
"I feel that all people should be able to participate in the Boy Scouts regardless of their sexual orientation," said Mitt Romney.
"Boy Scouts is a valuable organization that has helped educate and build character in American boys for more than a century. He also opposes discrimination in all forms, and as such opposes this policy that discriminates on basis of sexual orientation," said President Obama.
The Knox Trail Council is made up of three districts.
- LIBERTY DISTRICT: Ashland, Framingham, Holliston, Maynard, Natick, Sherborn, Stow, Sudbury, Wayland
- TRI RIVER DISTRICT: Hudson, Marlborough, Southborough, Westborough, Hopkinton, Milford, Hopedale, Mendon, Northborough
- VIKING DISTRICT: Weston, Newton, Wellesley