JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Trail Life USA began formal operations Wednesday after months of planning. The Christian-based scouting group formed after the Boy Scouts of America made the decision to allow gay members.
“Nobody has turned into gremlins because this has happened, and so I look forward to continuing to work with them,” said Larry Wagner, a leader who is recruiting members and host churches for Trail Life USA in Northeast Florida. “But as a Christian, I see Trail Life USA as a way to be more explicit with my Christianity and imparting that aspect of it as they grow into manhood."
The first group in Northeast Florida will meet this week in Lake City. Wagner says other groups are in the planning stages. Potential troop leaders have to agree to a statement of faith and values, which includes a definition of marriage as between one man and one woman.
“For the youth who are still exploring who they are or might be having a conception of who they might be, we make no such constraint,” Wagner said. “Come on board, walk with us for a while. We'll see where this leads.”
Local gay rights activists applauded the Boy Scouts of America’s decision, while questioning the need for another group.
“There's no difference between a gay Boy Scout and a straight Boy Scout,” said James Eddy, an activist. “I mean they're there to learn the Scouts.”
The new membership standard for the Boy Scouts of America took effect Wednesday. While it allows homosexual members of the Scouts, it forbids adult homosexual leaders.