US: Brooklyn Dad starts new Boy Scout troop which allows gay members and girls

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A father of two from Brooklyn, New York, has started his own Boy Scouts troop, to allow his son to be a member without having to accept the Boy Scouts of America’s anti-gay policy.

When he was younger, Todd Schweikert, was a Boy Scout himself, and wanted to allow his 7-year-old son the same experiences he had, but said he did not want to have to accept the policy which means the BSA doesn’t allow openly gay members, volunteers or staff.

Mr Schweikert’s troop allows girls, as well as openly gay members, and doesn’t contain a religious component, reports

In July 2012, after a two year review, the Boy Scouts of America announced it would retain its ban on gay members, volunteers and staff.

“I think the need and the want is there,” Mr Schweikert said. “A lot of people want their children to be in scouts, but a lot of people have issues with their policies.”

The new troop has reportedly had the parents of 40 children interested in allowing them to join, and Mr Schweikert, 33,  said he was excited to introduce scouting to a new generation. He said:

“It really builds character,” he explained. “It prepares them for leadership roles. It’s not just running around in the woods with knives.”

Last week, a Boy Scout Council in California approved a recommendation to the BSA for a gay scout’s application to be allowed to continue as a boy scout after coming out as gay, following a petition of more than 460,000 signatures, started by his mother.

Despite that some troops, or Scout Councils appearing to reject the official BSA policy on the issue, Mr Schweikert said he wouldn’t want his son to join a BSA troop because his money could be used to fund discriminatory policies.

He has named his new scouting troop the Fifth Brooklyn Scouts, and chose the Baden-Powell Service Association (BPSA) as the parent organisation for his troop.

The BPSA allows both boys and girls, and does not have as strong a leaning towards religious teaching as the BSA.

The BSA has already lost funding from several large corporate donors, including UPS, back in November, who had given over $150,000 (£95,000), Intel, another of the scouts’ largest donors, ceased funding back in September, and the Merck Foundation in December.