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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Boy Scouts CEO says new policy on gay leaders may be nonissue in Spokane area

Monday’s decision to end a ban on gay Boy Scout leaders nationwide is not expected to have much impact on Scouting in the Spokane region, the group’s top local executive said this week.

Tim McCandless, CEO of the Inland Northwest Council of the Boy Scouts of America, said sexual orientation and sexuality are not part of the Boy Scout program.

The Inland Northwest Council has never had a case where a gay person was banned as a Scout leader, he said.

“We deliver programs to kids. We teach life skills,” he said. The issue of Scout leaders’ sexuality is “not something we deal with in reality.”

The local council covers the eastern portion of Washington and North Idaho. It has 10,000 boys in three Scouting programs and 4,500 volunteer leaders.

McCandless said virtually all of the volunteer leaders are fathers with sons in their Scouting group.

At least half of Scout groups are chartered by civic groups and parent-teacher organizations with no affiliation to a church.

The new policy ending the ban on gay leaders will not affect church-sponsored Scout groups. Those groups can still ban gay leaders based on religious freedom.

All of the organizations provide their own volunteer leaders while the Boy Scouts provide training, Scout values and a system that has continued for generations.

Keith Glanzer, an attorney and Scout leader, saw his six sons earn the top rank of Eagle Scout and said the controversy over same-sex orientation among Scout leaders has been a problem for years and will continue to be a problem. But First Amendment religious freedom will help groups be independent and follow their own values.

His group, Troop 121, is sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on West Francis Avenue. The Glanzers are church members.

The Mormon church and Boy Scouts have been partners for a century, he said. But if the church leaders decide to break from Scouting, he would follow their guidance.

“Some would say they saw it coming,” he said. “There is always that group who say they could do it on their own.”

But Glanzer said Scouting “has blessed our family tremendously.”

One of the issues will come at summer camp and Jamborees when Scouts of different beliefs gather in one place. Glanzer said he is concerned about those events being used to make a political statement about gay rights.

The policy change was approved Monday by the Boy Scouts of America’s National Executive Board after years of controversy.

BSA’s president, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, said the controversy has divided Scouting for too long.

McCandless said he had heard little reaction from the Spokane region over the change.

None of the response he heard came from the local groups sponsoring troops, known in Scouting as charter sponsors, he said.

Matt Larson, lead pastor at Advent Lutheran Church in Spokane Valley, which has a troop, said the decision by the national board this week “is not really affecting us as far as I know.”

The church has no specific policy about sexual orientation. “It’s not like if it happens we are going to kick them out,” he said.

Nationally, the initial reactions to the decision from groups on both sides suggested the issue would remain divisive.

The Associated Press reported that the Mormon church, which sponsors more Scout units than any other organization, said it was “deeply troubled” by the decision.

Scouting consists of Cub Scouts for ages 7 to 10 or grades 1 to 5; Boy Scouts for ages 11 to 17; and Venturers and Sea Scouts, a coed program for ages 14 to 20.

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