KEITH WHITCOMB JR.
BENNINGTON -- The Knights of Columbus have decided to continue supporting the local Boy Scouts of America troop in spite of the national organization allowing homosexual scouts, but the relationship might not continue into 2014 for other reasons.
In July, Scout leader Paul Doucette said he was told by Knights of Columbus leadership that the organization might drop its support of the scouts because the Boy Scouts of America changed its policy to allow openly homosexual Scouts to join.
Despite this, the Knights voted largely in favor of supporting the Scouts, said Grand Knight Bill Center. The vote took place Aug. 27, with 35 members voting. Center said he did not take an exact count, but the majority were in favor of continuing their support.
That said, the Knights of Columbus (KoC) meeting hall on Route 9 is up for sale. "I told them to aggressively look for a replacement, just in case," said Center.
According to Simon Drew, chairman of the Troop 353 Bennington, Vt. Committee, the BSA requires each troop to have a charter organization, mainly so they can have a space to meet and store equipment.
The committee meets on Sept. 11. Drew said at that time its members will discuss the pros and cons of remaining with the KoC given their interesting in selling their meeting hall. He said he believes the Scouts would not have a great deal of trouble finding a new charter organization and understands some have expressed interest.
"It’s up to them whether they stay with us or not," said Center. Each charter agreement is for one year. The Scouts’ arrangement with the KoC would end Dec. 31. Center said his group will support them if they wish, but he did not want the Scouts to be in a bad position. This was why the Scouts were also told about the vote on whether or not to keep supporting them after the BSA policy change.
Doucette said the Scouts make use of an equipment trailer, owned by the KoC, that stores their camping equipment. The Knights will retain possession of it, meaning the Scouts also need to find a place to put their gear. He said it seems the troop will need to find a new charter organization, but that decision falls to the committee.
Drew said he did not wish to speculate on what the committee will decide, but said service organizations make good Scout charters, because they give Scouts people to look up to.
Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @KWhitcombjr.