Georgia-Carolina Council prepares for Boy Scouts new policy to allow gay youth

AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - The Boy Scouts of America are starting 2014 with a new policy that's getting a lot of attention.

Starting on New Year's Day, they're allowing openly gay scouts, and one troop in the CSRA had to find a new home because of the changes.

"As far as the impact on the Georgia-Carolina Council, there really is no impact change," said Jeff Schwab, Scout Executive.

Jeff Schwab said it's business as usual this New Year's Eve.

"When a young person joins scouting, we have never asked what their sexuality was, and that has not been an issue," he said.

A vote conducted last May on the national level of Boy Scouts of America opened the doors for gay youth to join the program. Locally, the majority of scout volunteers opposed it.

The change set in motion the revoking of Troop 686's charter with Grace Baptist Church in Evans.

"We didn't feel like we could be aligned with an organization that promoted in that way, that type of un-God-like behavior," Pastor Bill Hilley said in a July 2013 interview.

Schwab said, despite the initial setback, Troop 686 was saved and now has a bright future ahead.

"Their new charter partner was found," he said. "Their new church home. And they have now moved to one of the local Methodist churches in the Augusta area."

But, Schwab said, scouting is more than just about someone's orientation.

"We anticipate a growth of 1.5 to 2% in our membership this year," he added. "And we're very appreciative and proud of our volunteers who give up their time and talent to help mold the future of young people in scouting."

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