Copperas Cove Boy Scouts are holding their first meetings of the year since the new national policy allowing openly gay youth to join took effect Jan. 1.
The Longhorn Council, which includes Copperas Cove, is experiencing some fallout.
Under the new national membership policy which, was approved in May but took effect on New Year’s Day, children are no longer banned from the Cub Scouts or Boy Scouts based solely on sexual orientation.
While the Boy Scouts accept new members throughout the year, the largest enrollment occurs in the fall, said Devon Langford, Longhorn Council senior district executive.
“We really haven’t seen any changes in youths not being involved,” Langford said. “We have actually had our largest enrollment increase this year and are up nine percent.”
But since the policy was enacted, local troops have experienced a loss in sponsors who provide financial backing for scouting activities and meeting and event locations at no charge.
“We did have a few charter organizations that decided to no longer sponsor the organization,” Langford said. “But we had others who were willing to take on their sponsorship place.”
Locally, the Boy Scouts lost the backing of some Copperas Cove churches, Langford said, but declined to name those churches.
But the Rotary Club of Copperas Cove signed on as a new sponsor, she said.
Three different Boy Scout troops and packs meet weekly at Grace United Methodist Church, which is continuing to support the youth organization, scout leaders said. The meetings continue to be posted on the church’s calendar.
Langford said a few adult leaders have voiced their objections to the new policy, but none of the local leadership has stepped down. George Covert, an Eagle Scout who now volunteers with Boy Scout Troop 258, disagrees with the new policy.
“My perception is that the misguided few coerced the majority into believing that this was for the greater good of Scouting and that more support including funding would flow to support Scouting if only this one change was made. Neither additional support or funding has followed since the decision,” Covert said. “The path of appeasement resulted in the loss of many and the support that went with them.”
Covert said despite his objections to the national decision, he will continue to support the local scouting program.
“I strongly believe in Scouting and will do my best to provide an experience for these youth similar to my experience I had at this age that provided me such encouragement, knowledge growth and enjoyment,” Covert said.
Scoutmaster James Leight of Boy Scout Troop 258 said he sees no issues coming forward from the change.
“The boys have no concern over it. Any concerns are from the grown-ups. Any sexual behavior is not allowed whether with our younger Scouts or the Venture Crew,” Leight said. “We did have to change a lot of our money structure with corporate sponsors and I know personally one adult that withdrew as a volunteer.”