AUSTIN, Texas -- The Boy Scouts of America has come under fire in recent years for its policy forbidding openly gay children and adults from taking part in the program.
Last year the Boy Scouts of America changed its membership policy to allow openly gay youth to become members. The popular grouphas more than 2.5 million members. Butsomeacross the country and in Central Texas say they'd rather join what they believe is aninclusive group.One troop leader is turning that wish into a reality.
On a sunny Saturday, the youngest members of the Baden-Powell Service Association and their troop leader go on a hike in Wild Basin.
We hiked and we saw a scorpion, said one little boy.
We saw lots of creatures and plants, added a little girl.
What makes the Baden-Powell Service Association different is that it allows boys and girls, kids and adults, gay and straight.
Robert Baden-Powell is the original founder of the Boy Scouts. This branch of scouting follows more traditional practices, what some call a back to basics program focused on outdoor skills and community service.
It's a member of The World Federation of Independent Scouts, and has no affiliation with the Boy or Girl Scouts.
A lot of people are looking for something else, said Roger Grey, who served as a Boy Scout leader for 10 years.
He resigned because he thought the organization became less about kids and more about politics.
I think what changed my mind, first and foremost, is the stand on homosexual leaders, he said.
Grey said he is impressed BPSA allows everyone, regardless of their religion, gender or sexual preference, to take part.
We almost have a family aspect, instead of a troop aspect or a pack aspect, he said.
Grey also said he feels there's more of a focus on the outdoors.The kids and adults in BPSA learn first aid, survival skills and more.
There are currently 45 BPSA groups across the country and four in Texas, including two in Central Texas.
Grey said he is sure the inclusive policy of BPSA will mean more kids joining and more groups forming in the near future.
Adults who want to join the BPSA, along with volunteers, all undergo a background check before being allowed around the kids.