Alabama boy scouts forging ahead

In an exclusive interview with ABC 33/40's Larry Miller, J.T. Dabbs, Scout Executive/CEO for Boy Scouts of America Greater Alabama Council said the organization is growing despite speculation it would dwindle after its national office announced it openly gay boys can become scouts.{}" Regardless of how you feel about this, we know that a youngster that joins our programs are going to be better off because of it and that's something we can all agree on," said Dabbs.Dabbs acknowledges some families have decided to leave the scouts and that's a decision the organization respects."We looked at our membership mid-June. {}We had a growth in membership," he said.{}The organizations' policy shift on gay members prompted the creation of Trail Life USA, which refers to itself as the 'premier' Christian group for boys and young men.{}The group will, according to its website, 'accept boys who experience same sex attractions but will not admit youth who are open and avowed about their sexuality.' Also, "it will not admit boys who are not 'biologically male' or boys who wish to dress and act like girls.""This is a huge debate and its never been apart of our program," said Dabbs. "We have always been about our outdoor program, teaching young people to be prepared for the future, building leaders for the future. {}That's what we've always been about and that hasn't changed. {}People got focused on this one thing."The scouts also had to deal with severed ties with some local churches. {}Troop 404 will not be able to meet at First Baptist Church of Pelham. {}The city has offered to provide scouts with meeting space.{}"We want to make certain that after the separation takes place between the churches and the scouts, that no one is left without a meeting space," said Gary Waters, Mayor of Pelham.{}In spite of the policy change, Dabbs is confident the organization will continue to forge ahead; teaching young boys and men to be contributors to their communities.{}

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