SALT LAKE CITY -- The relationship between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Boy Scouts of America goes back a century, but, soon, it could all be coming to an end.
Following the BSA’s vote to lift its ban on gay leaders, the LDS Church has expressed an interest in leaving the organization and starting a similar group of its own.
“I do believe the impact will be on the youth,” said Drew Reese, a member of Scouts for Equality.
To date, the LDS Church is the largest scouting sponsor in the country, with almost 38,000 units and 437,000 youth members. That accounts for approximately 18 percent of BSA’s membership, which would mean a significant loss in participation and funding.
However, due to the policy change, BSA may also gain new support.
“It’s a whole new future for the Boy Scouts,” Reese said. “We’re trying to build a better youth, a better generation, and we need all the support we can to do that.”
In 2013, Scouts for Equality petitioned several corporate sponsors of the BSA to drop their funding because of its ban on gay adults. Many companies, such as Intel, Caterpillar and Disney, all pulled their support for BSA. But now that the policy has changed, Reese hopes they return.
“We invite them to come back; we want them to come back,” he said.
FOX 13 News reached out to several former BSA sponsors, but did not hear back from any of them.
A scout member until the age of 18, Reese believes BSA will see members and supporters who left scouting now make their way back to the group, like him. He is already in the process of applying for a charter for a new troop, where he will now be allowed to serve as an openly gay leader.
“Having that door open up again is not only a dream come true,” he said, “It’s a blessing.”