Local officials respond to new Boy Scout directive

Jul 28, 2015

The top local leader of the Boy Scouts says he doesn't see any immediate problems in the wake of the national board lifting a ban on openly gay leaders in the troops.

In an attempt to calm local churches which run many scout troops, those churches can still refuse to hire gay leaders.

Local Scout Executive Russell Etzenhouser says the quest is for good mentors.

"We're looking for adults that can be good mentors and good representatives to help that young man grow in to be that leader that we need in our community," Etzenhouser said.

"I think that's really our overriding responsibility and that particular organization can select that leadership based on what their beliefs are."

Of the 300 troops in Erie County and the Western half of Niagara County with 8,000 scouts, Etzenhouser says around 70 percent are run by churches. The Mormon Church is threatening to leave scouting completely and the church runs 17 percent of the troops nationally.

Rep. Chris Collins sits on the local Scout board and says leaving the decision local is a good idea. Around the country, scouting faced numerous discrimination lawsuits over the ban on gay leaders.