Scouting diversity: Girl Scouts accept gay leaders, members

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- While the issue of gays in the Boy Scouts is still simmering over the campfire, the Girl Scouts play by a different set of rules.

WEAU stopped by the regional Girl Scouts office in Eau Claire Tuesday, and found that the organization doesn’t have any rules on stopping gay leaders and members from wearing green.

“As an organization, we don't inquire into the sexual orientation of our volunteers or our members. Volunteers are vetted mostly based on their ability to really make a difference in the life of girls and build leadership skills in girls,” said Ally Clark Peterson, the regional director of the Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes.

She said the Girl Scouts like to leave issues of sexuality up to talks with parents.

“We have standards in place that people don't advocate for a specific position or for a specific lifestyle. In the end it's really a family issue,” Clark Peterson said.

And if there's a suspected problem with a leader or member being a lesbian, it's dealt with on a case by case basis.

The Girl Scouts say even transgender scouts have been accepted.

“The goal of Girl Scouts is to have a place for every single girl in this organization, and we will find a place for any girl regardless of their background,” Clark Peterson said.

The girls in green say they’re proud of their long history of diversity.

“When segregation was happening in the 1950s we were at the forefront by integrating our troops,” Clark Peterson said.

And accepting others is as big a part of the scouts as selling cookies.

“To advocate for other people, to inspire other people to act; it's built into our curriculum to really respect others, to value differences,” Clark Peterson said.

The Boy Scouts of America is set to make a decision on allowing openly gay members in May.

Local Boy Scout leaders told WEAU they're waiting on direction from the national office.

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