Boy Scouts of America Maintain Ban on Gay Members
Activists Tyrrell and Wahls campaign for scout equality
Earlier this year, Ohio mom Jennifer Tyrrell was booted from her position as den leader of her son’s Boy Scout troop simply because she’s gay. On July 17, the Boy Scouts of America announced that a secret committee of Scout executives had decided to maintain the organization’s ban on openly gay scouts and leaders. One day later, Tyrrell delivered more than 300,000 Change.org petition signatures to the Boy Scouts’ headquarters in hopes to end their anti-gay policy.
The two-year confidential review of the ban resulted in the assertion that “this policy is absolutely the best policy for the Boy Scouts,” said Bob Mazzuca, the Scouts’ chief executive. He argued that a majority of Scout families support the policy, but admitted that no single policy will accommodate the diverse views of society.
That didn’t sit well with the thousands of supporters in Tyrrell’s petition, who included celebrities like Ricky Martin, Dianna Agron and Julianne Moore. Activist Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout and the son of two gay moms, and his organization Scouts for Equality are now launching a new petition asking the board of the Boy Scouts of America to vote on the decision—and overrule the mysterious committee.
“One of the core values of scouting is trustworthiness. The three million members of the Boy Scouts deserve to see formal documentation describing who the members of this subcommittee are, how they reached their conclusion, what exactly that conclusion is, when it was reached and to whom these people are responsible,” Wahls said. “Until that happens, color me highly skeptical about anything that this committee has or has not decided.”
Tyrrell's campaign recently convinced Boy Scout board member and Ernst & Young Chairman and CEO James Turley to publicly oppose the organization's ban on gay scouts and leaders. Turley announced last month that he intends to “work from within the Boy Scouts of America Board to actively encourage dialogue and sustainable progress” on ending the ban on gay scouts and gay scout leaders. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, slated to become the President of the Boy Scouts of America Board of Directors in 2014, has also announced through his spokesperson that he's “committed to changing the policy,” according to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).
Despite the promises of progress, Scouts continue to be ejected from the organization due to their sexual orientation. Earlier this week, Eric Jones, a 19-year-old Eagle Scout from Missouri, was kicked out of his troop and fired from his job as a Boy Scout camp counselor after telling the camp director he was gay.
“No secret committee can take these stories away. We are going to stand strong, and we won't rest until the Boy Scouts of America recognizes that their current policy only punishes families, punishes troops, and wrongfully teaches our children that discrimination and bigotry are acceptable," said Tyrrell.
So much for being an all-American organization that preaches obedience, trustworthiness and good citizenship, say critics. They should take their scout oath literally: “To keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.”