KNIGHTDALE, N.C. — The Boy Scouts of America are making headlines with their recent announcement to allow girls to join and a previous decision lifting a ban on gay scouts.
But not everyone is happy about the group’s more inclusive attitude.
Knightdale Boy Scout Cameron Edwards, 14, is not always greeted with a warm welcome.
“Unfortunately, it’s the world we live in today, people aren’t courteous anymore,” said Cameron’s father Jeremy Edwards.
“Now I’m heading for Eagle (Scout) and it’s gonna get a lot tougher cause I gotta do a lot more stuff,” Cameron Edwards said.
For more than a century the Boy Scouts of America had a strict policy of no openly gay members, but that’s changed. LGBT people and leaders are now welcome to join and most recently the scouts announced girls could sign up too.
Jeremy Edwards says since the scouts made these changes, he’s noticed a major difference in the way people treat his son while he tries to sell popcorn for fundraising.
“Last week we had a customer come up and he got belligerent with my son and he said ‘Not since you let girls and gays into scouting’,” Jeremy Edwards said.
Jeremy says interactions like that are becoming more and more common. He recently witnessed a woman scream at an 11-year-old autistic scout.
“She sticks her head back out the door and screams, ‘I said we’re homophobic!’” Jeremy Edwards recalled.
Cameron Edwards says he can handle it, but he worries about some of the younger scouts.
He says it makes him feel, “Kind of sad. It’s really sad.”
But Jeremy Edwards is taking a negative situation and turning it into an opportunity to educate his son.
“You can’t legislate morality and you can’t change people’s attitudes,” Jeremy Edwards said. “All we can do is reach out to the community and let them know this is what scouting is about. It’s good to always learn how to handle adversity.”
Jeremy says 73 percent of every popcorn purchase goes directly to the scouts, so they can pay their scouting dues, uniforms, and for camp.