Local Scout: Policy ‘Still Not Good Enough’

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A big change in the Boy Scouts' longstanding policy on gay members.

More than 61 percent of the 1,400 member council voted to allow gay Boy Scouts, but keep the ban on gay adult boy scout leaders.

"I feel that it's just a matter of time when things will progress in our favor," said James Barnwell.

Barnwell was a Boy Scout in Strongsville from the time he was in the 6th grade until he was a junior in high school in the late 70's and early 80's.  He is gay, and says one of his biggest fears as a child was that someone would find out about him.

"I was afraid to express who I was and having them treat me differently, I've always tried to fit in, but part of me was still different," Barnwell said.

On Thursday, more than 60 percent of the members of the national council for the Boy Scouts of America voted to allow openly gay children to join the organization.

The resolution reads in part, "No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone."

The resolution also states that gay adult leaders will still be banned.  James says he wishes gay adults were allowed in, too.

"That way they can have a resource they can turn to if things get difficult for them, so there's no hostility or taunting or bullying," said Barnwell.

"Scouters, like the general public, are divided on this issue, but nobody is divided about the idea of serving kids," said Barry Norris, scout executive of the Greater Cleveland Chapter, who is in Texas.

Fox 8 spoke to him by phone.

He says there was little reaction when the vote results were read.

"There's varied opinions on the matter, but where everybody ... we're all scouters and locked arm in arm ... is that the scouting program is still needed, still necessary for the kids in the Cleveland area," Norris said.

"I believe everyone has the title to live their life the way they want to," said Cleveland resident Maxine Samilton.

"I'm actually an Eagle Scout myself and I have a lot of gay and bisexual friends and it's still not good enough, because it doesn't matter if you're an adult or a kid, the people involved in that care about it," said John Burkle.

The ban on gay scouts will be lifted on January first.