LANCASTER -- On March 20, the executive committee of the Nashua Valley Boy Scout Council voted to urge the Boy Scouts of America to eliminate language which forbids participation by "open and avowed homosexuals."

The seven-member Nashua Valley Boy Scout Council Executive Committee, led by President Jim Ganley, released the vote results in a prepared statement posted to its website, www.nashuavalleybsa.org. The vote was unanimous.

The local vote follows a late winter survey of parents and leaders throughout the Nashua Valley council. In its statement, the local executive committee stated it has shared its stance with the BSA National Executive Board as part of its call for feedback from hundreds of councils from around the country.

"We thank all of the members of our Scouting family who took the time to share your thoughts and concerns as part of this dialog," read the statement. "Many of you took time to answer the online surveys. We deeply appreciate your input, and thank you for keeping this process courteous, kind and friendly."

The Nashua Valley BSA Executive Council said Scouting is a "vibrant patchwork of individuals and organizations with a broad diversity of beliefs." As such, the council agreed, "Our chartered organizations are much better suited to judge the quality of an individual's character than an institutionalized national policy."

The council stated the local feedback was not unanimous on the topic. The split among beliefs in the feedback was not shared in the statement.

"This is a divisive, emotional issue with strong feelings on both sides. This is also an opportunity for Scouting to shine," reads the statement. "This is our opportunity to show the rest of our country how to move through a difficult, emotional process deliberately, respectfully, with spirited debate, and to emerge stronger for the effort."

The statement continues: "At the end of the day, we all want our youth to grow into participating citizens, leaders of industry and government. We want to give them a moral compass so that they will make good choices, help their neighbors, be true to their own faiths, and become role models in their own right. We want them to enjoy outdoor adventures, and become responsible stewards of our environment. We all want to see Scouting be a thriving part of our communities. Although some of our beliefs may differ, and sometimes divide us, it is these shared goals that bind our Scouting community together, now and in the future."

The BSA National Executive Board is next expected to draft a resolution to be presented for a vote of the BSA National Meeting in May. The resolution is first to be shared with local councils in mid-April. The Nashua Valley BSA Council said it will share the resolution language locally before the local council delegates attend the national meeting to participate in the vote.

The Nashua Valley BSA Council includes some 3,500 Scouts throughout Worcester and Middlesex Counties. Participating communities include Acton, Ashburnham, Ashby, Athol, Ayer, Barre, Berlin, Bolton, Boxborough, Clinton, Fitchburg, Gardner, Groton, Hardwick, Harvard, Hubbardston, Lancaster, Leominster, Littleton, Lunenburg, Orange, Pepperell, Petersham, Phillipston, Princeton, Royalston, Shirley, Sterling, Templeton, Townsend, Westminster and Winchendon.

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