Boca scoutmaster to enforce policy on gays

BOCA RATON, Fla. - The Boy Scouts of America said they would continue to ban gays from their ranks, a defeat for gay rights activists who had urged them reconsider a policy they called out-of-step.

The Boy Scouts said the current policy is in the "best interest of scouting."

A former Marine, Michael Schmidt of Boca Raton, knows something about the chain of command.

"It's the policy of the boy scouts. It is not my responsibility as a scout master to question that policy," said Schmidt.

Schmidt leads Troop 333, a troop of 33 Boy Scouts.

He says the decision, by the Boy Scouts of America after a two-year evaluation, to continue to bar gay scouts or leaders from serving, won't have much impact on day-to-day activities or discussions in his troop.

"Certainly we don't have boy scouts running around suggesting they're heterosexuals, therefore I don't think it appropriate for boys to run around to suggest they're homosexuals. Or their leaders, for that matter," said Schmidt.

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the right for the Boy Scouts to exclude gays in a ruling twelve years ago. 

But gay rights groups have been pressing  the 2.5 million member  organization to redraw its membership rules.

They called the Boy Scouts out-of-step with a society whose attitudes on gay rights are evolving.

Vallorie Nasiero-Valdez's son was a scout. He's heterosexual but wants no one excluded

"He would be very hurt if for anyone looking at him through different eyes," said Nasiero Valdez of West Palm Beach.

Nancy Lee of Lake Worth says local scoutmasters should defend members of their troops who might feel unaccepted.

"It's the local people who have to make the changes. These are citizens, they're boys who live in our community," said Lee.

The Scout's National chief executive argues most Scout families support the ban and said in a statement:

"We fully understand that no single policy will accommodate the many diverse views among our membership or society."

Schmidt says he will address any concerns if anyone in his troop raises them.

"It's not my responsibility has a leader to suggest what they can and can not talk about. It's my responsibility to ensure that they're living by the scout oath and law," said Schmidt.

Schmidt says their seven-member committee would address the membership status of any scout or leader who said they were homosexual.

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