Hinsdale Scouts open to gay youths, leaders
Updated: April 8, 2013 2:02AM
HINSDALE — A change in Boy Scout policy, which would allow gays to participate, may be welcomed locally.
“We are glad they are considering that, so more men and boys will be welcome,” said the Rev. Tom Zoelzer, transitional senior minister of Union Church of Hinsdale. “We would celebrate that.”
Union Church charters Boy Scout Troop 10, as well as Cub Scout Pack 10.
The Boys Scouts of America announced Monday the organization is considering a dramatic change in its 100-year-old policy that excludes homosexuals as leaders and youth members.
Under the change being considered, the different religious and civic groups that sponsor Scout units would be able to decide for themselves how to address the issue — either maintaining an exclusion of gays or opening up their membership.
Robert Rocque, cubmaster of Pack 10, said it’s unknown how the change might effect his pack.
“We don’t know what they are going to do and how that filters down,” Rocque said. “Once we know that, we can better respond.”
Timothy Poisson, scoutmaster of Troop 8, said if the national organization decides to open Scouting to homosexuals, he would consult with his troop’s charter, the Evangelical Covenant Church of Hinsdale.
“We would sit down and have a conversation with the church board or elders and ask what they think we should do, as far as being more open,” Poisson said.
So far, the troop has “never been put in a position to make that decision,” said Poisson, who has been involved with Troop 8 for 17 years.
“We are a troop that openly brings in boys of all different mental and physical abilities.”
The purpose of the troop, Poisson said, is “for the development of the boys. As long as they are ethical and honest, and learn to be a leader and accept responsibility for their actions, and have respect for the outdoors and God and have fun in what we do, that’s what I’m more concerned about,” than the boys’ sexuality, Poisson said.
Some local Scout leaders deferred questions to Scout Executive Irene Szinavel of the DesPlaines Valley Council. Szinavel did not respond to a request for comment.
Officials with the Three Fires Boy Scout Council, which oversees Scouts throughout the Fox Valley, have not yet decided how to handle the policy change if it does occur, marketing specialist Nancy Loftus said Monday.
“This isn’t happening at a local level, so we don’t have any response as yet,” she said.
The council, which oversees about 25,000 Scouts in Kane, DuPage, Kendall, Cook and Will counties, would not be able to force packs and troops under its jurisdiction to either accept gay members or to ban them, she added.~
Denise Linke contributed to this story.