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National BSA Lifting Ban on Gays

CHAMPAIGN-- The Boy Scouts of America was founded in 1910 and has taught boys and young men for over 100 years. But during that time, and explicitly since 2004, the organization has barred gays from participating as scouts or scout leaders. Until now.

Tim Manard, CEO of the local Prairielands Council, says, "And so really what this does, if this policy goes away, it will just mean National doesn't have a policy, and expands the charter organization's opportunity to select their leadership."

The Boy Scouts of America national council announced on Monday that they were reconsidering lifting the national ban, and would allow individual charters to decide whether or not to allow gays to participate.

Manard says the change in policy won't have much effect on the way local troops operate. Says Manard, "We haven't had a big issue here in Prairielands Council. I haven't had any real incidences of major concerns." The Prairielands Council serves over 3,000 boys and young men in Illinois and Indiana, and is assisted by over 1,200 volunteers.

A rash of reports of sexual abuse has plagued the organization in recent years, but the change in policy is largely seen as an effort to rehabilitate the image.

Local reaction to the announcement was warm. Renee Llewellyn of Champaign says, "I think with all the changes that have been going on in the world, it's inevitable to happen sooner or later anyway. If it can be done professionally, then by all means."

Adam Rife reporting