East Tenn. troop reacts to Boy Scout decision

East Tenn. troop reacts to Boy Scout decision to allow openly gay members

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"I just hope that our donors can look at this and see the good things, many good things that the Great Smoky Mountain Council does for our young men and boys," Taylor said. "I just hope that our donors can look at this and see the good things, many good things that the Great Smoky Mountain Council does for our young men and boys," Taylor said.

By LORI TUCKER
6 News Anchor

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Members of The Boy Scouts of America are now speaking out about Thursday's historic vote to end the ban on openly gay members.

Many, however, say the issue is far from over.

"This is what we've been working for," former Pack Leader Jennifer Tyrell said. "It's a small step in the right direction, but it's huge in another way."

Zach Wahls, the executive director of Scouts for Equality says this an important moment for the nation, saying it could lead to lessons about tolerance.

"When we talk about homophobia, literally the fear around this, is people can have person-to-person conversations and understand that there isn't anything to be afraid of," Wahls said.

However, Scott Taylor with the Great Smoky Mountain Boy Scout Council, says that is not what this is about.

"Sex and sexuality have never been and they never will be part of the scouting programs here in East Tennessee, " Taylor said. "Those are issues for young men and their families, not for scout troops."

More than 60 percent of the National Council's 1,400 members voted to lift the ban but only for gay scout members.

They did not reverse the ban on allowing gay adult scout leaders.

Taylor says the local council is getting plenty of feedback from the people it serves.

"Well we've heard from a lot of parents and a lot of scouts and a lot of community members on both sides of the issue," Taylor said.

The council released a statement to East Tennessee families saying that it "recognizes this process has been difficult," as well as that it "stands united with the Boy Scouts of America."

Taylor says the hope is for united support, but that the future is uncertain.

One concern is the possibility of changes in donations from those who don't support today's decision.

"I just hope that our donors can look at this and see the good things, many good things that the Great Smoky Mountain Council does for our young men and boys," Taylor said.

The decision goes into effect January 1.

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