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Boy Scouts end ban on gay scouts

Rochester, N.Y. - The New Year brings a big change for the Boy Scouts of America.

The National organization changed its policy banning gay scouts. While this move has caused a drop in membership nationally, the opposite has happened here in Rochester. Steven Hoitt of the Boy Scouts Rochester region said that enrollment is up 12 percent from last year. Hoitt said it may be due to the fact that the local group ended the ban on gay scouts seven years ago.

In fact, the local Boy Scouts lobbied the national organization to make this change. "What the National office has done is changed to a conduct-based policy," Hoitt said. "So the only reason to remove a youth member is if they engage in inappropriate conduct."

"It's a step forward for the organization and will now allow us to focus on scouting," Hoitt said. He said the controversy over gay scouts was a distraction for the group.

Not everyone is applauding this change. Some Boy Scout leaders and committee members have left the organization and joined Trail Life USA. It's a Christian-based group that mentors young men.

Bill McCall is a local point person for that group. He said this isn't just about the change allowing gay scouts. He said he wasn't happy with the direction the Boy Scouts of America were heading.

"My interest is on a group that wants to teach values to young boys and young men," McCall said.

He said there are about three Trailman troops in New York State.

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Washington Times