GRAPEVINE — Tucked away at the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Grapevine, 1,400 Scout leaders from across the country have gathered to decide whether the Boy Scouts of America should drop its long-standing ban on openly gay members.
Occasionally, people on opposite ends of the issue are mixing it up outside, but they are generally avoiding one another as they express their impassioned positions.
Jonathan Saenz of Texas Values is deeply troubled by the proposal for change.
"I think it's very clear what we have today is a group that wants to radically change what the Boy Scouts is all about and what they stand for," Saenz said. "I think a lot of parents like myself are very concerned that you have sex and politics being pushed into the Boy Scouts."
But Jennifer Tyrrell, who started the petition drive last year to allow gay Scouts, said this wasn’t a battle she picked. She said she didn’t take up the cause until she was forced out as den leader of her son’s pack solely because of her lifestyle.
"I agree with the BSA that sexuality shouldn’t be part of the Scouts; it never was," Tyrrell said. "It wasn’t until they brought it up and kicked me out."
As for the petition drive? "I really had no idea it would go this far," Tyrrell said, "but 1.8 million signatures later and we are making change."
Whether there will actually be change won’t be known until Thursday. That’s when the Irving-based organization’s national council votes on whether to allow gay Scouts.
The Boy Scouts of America has already stated this is the toughest issue it has faced, and it likely will not be resolved no matter which way Thursday’s vote goes.
Both sides vow to continue pressing forward, and there is still a separate movement growing calling for gay scout leaders to be allowed as well.