Western Springs, La Grange Scouts ponder Boy Scout policy change
Updated: February 5, 2013 2:10PM
WESTERN SPRINGS — A policy change allowing gays to participate is long overdue, according to one Western Springs Scout leader.
Mary Torgler, committee chairman of Troop 3 based at All Saints Episcopal Church in Western Springs, spoke in favor of the Boy Scouts’ potential reversal of its long-held position banning gays.
“I was really happy to see that come down and I hope they actually do it,” Torgler said. “We’ve never had the issue come up, but I would hate to see a good Scout on his way to becoming an Eagle Scout say, ‘I’m gay,’ and have to leave the troop.”
Torgler said her only concern is that a pedophile could inadvertently come in contact with troop members, despite background checks and training programs in place to protect both children and adults.
“We have the best youth protection policy and training in place. It’s very clear,” she said. “Every adult who works with youth has to take the training every two years.”
Material on sexual abuse and predators also is presented to Scouts and their parents. Boy Scout policy requires two adults to be present at all times when working with children and teens.
Under the change being considered, the different religious and civic groups that sponsor Scout units would be able to decide for themselves how to address the issue, either maintaining an exclusion of gays or opening up their membership.
Torgler speculated that if a troop wanted to drop the ban and the sponsoring organization did not, the troop could search for another meeting place and sponsor.
Scoutmaster Clifford Althoff of Troop 14 based at the First United Methodist Church of La Grange said he doesn’t yet have information on how the decision process will work at the local level.
A representative from the church had no comment on the matter.
Althoff and surrounding troops and Cub Scout packs await guidelines from the national level and regional officials with the Voyager Trace District of the Des Plaines Valley Council with offices in La Grange.
Irene Szinavel, council executive, did not return phone calls to The Doings.
In La Grange, the policy change could affect members of Troop 19 at St. Cletus Catholic Church, Troop 33 at St. Francis Xavier Church and Troop 39 at the First Baptist Church of La Grange.
The decision also could impact Troop 117 at St. John of the Cross Catholic Church and Troop 12 at the First Congregational Church in Western Springs.