News Column

Ex-scoutmaster: 'About Time'

Jan 29, 2013

Brian Shane and Mike Chalmers

For former scoutmaster Richard Guglielmetti, the Boy Scouts of America's reconsideration of its ban on gays is long overdue.

Guglielmetti, 66, who led Troop 76 in Simsbury, Conn., for a dozen years until 2005, said leaders and members of his troop ignored the national organization's prohibition because they felt it was wrong.

"It's about time," he said Monday.

"We had a bunch of boys in our troop who were gay. Everybody was always welcome in our troop."

One of those Scouts was his son, Matthew, now 34. Last year, Matthew Guglielmetti turned in the Eagle Scout award he earned in 1993 as a protest of Scouting's anti-gay policies, his father said.

The Boy Scouts of America said Monday that its board is considering a policy change that would reverse its decades-old ban on gay Scouts and leaders.

If approved, the change would allow churches, civic groups or others that oversee troops to decide locally whom to allow in Scouting.

Discussion of a new policy comes too late for Silverside Church in Brandywine Hundred, Del., north of Wilmington.

Silverside -- a liberal, non-denominational church that promotes its inclusiveness -- had sponsored Troop 70 since its founding in 1972, but church leaders cut ties with the Scouts last year after the national group reaffirmed its ban on gays.

Allowing local councils and sponsoring organizations to decide the issue would have kept Troop 70 at Silverside Church, said its pastor, David Albert Farmer. The troop is now sponsored by another church.

"Absolutely, that would have settled our problem instantly," Farmer said. "Silverside would not have asked them to leave, because we didn't want them to leave."

Guglielmetti said he resigned from Scouting last September, ending his work as chairman of a panel that gave Eagle Scouts their review board exams. He said the final straw was hearing of Ryan Andresen, a gay teen in California who was not allowed to earn his Eagle Scout ranking after completing the required service project.

"The boy did all the work, and everybody knew he was gay, and then they rejected him. That was just intolerable," Guglielmetti said.

As for gay leaders, he said, "barring gay leaders kind of accuses them of being pedophiles, which they're not. There's plenty of good gay men that would be good leaders."

Shane reports for The Daily Times in Salisbury, Md., Chalmers for The News Journal in Wilmington, Del.

Source: Copyright USA TODAY 2013

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