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Gay boy scouts, scout leaders make final plea to Boy Scouts of America

Dallas Examiner | 6/3/2013, 10:18 a.m.

On the eve of an historic vote by the Boy Scouts of America to end their decades-long policy banning openly gay scouts from serving in the organization, a gay boy scout and numerous gay scout leaders gathered in Dallas to share their personal stories of why the anti-gay ban should be lifted, making one final plea to more than 1,400 Scouting officials who will vote on Thursday on whether to allow gay scouts.

Pascal Tessier, an openly gay 16-year-old Boy Scout from Maryland, spoke on May 23 that if the boy scouts don’t vote to end the ban on openly gay Scouts, he would not be eligible to receive his Eagle Scout award.

“Being gay doesn’t define who I am – to me or my family or my friends – but the boy scouts’ membership policy will exclude me based on that one quality – regardless of my having earned all the merit badges required for Eagle and everything else I’ve done in Scouting,” said Pascal, whose brother Lucien Tessier started a petition on Change.org signed by more than 125,000 urging the boy scouts to end their policy and allow his brother to continue in Scouting. “The majority of the Scouting community agrees that every Scout deserves a chance to get his Eagle. In fact, Boy Scouts own internal survey found that more than 90 percent of Boy Scout Councils think it’s unacceptable to deny an Eagle Scout award based on sexual orientation. It’s time for the discrimination policy to end.”

Tessier was joined by openly gay mom Jennifer Tyrrell, who was ousted last year as the leader of her son’s Cub Scout pack because of her sexual orientation. Tyrrell started a petition on Change.org, with the support of GLAAD, signed by more than 300,000 people and has sparked much of the nationwide movement calling for an end to the Scouts’ anti-gay ban. Tyrrell also led a campaign to get the CEOs of AT&T and Ernst & Young, who sit on the Boy Scouts of America’s Board of Directors, to condemn the anti-gay policy.

“I can’t really describe what it’s like to have to look your 7 year old in the eye and tell him you can’t be part of Scouting because our family looks different than others. It was, and always will be, one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do,” Tyrrell said today. “Tomorrow, the Boy Scouts have a tremendous opportunity to move one step closer to inclusion. And even though loving gay parents, like me, who simply want to be part of our children’s lives, would still face discrimination under the rules of this proposed resolution, I hope the Scouts take the first step by approving this thing and letting gay kids participate.”

Another openly gay parent ousted as a leader of his son’s Boy Scout Council, Greg Bourke, spoke about how the current ban on gay Scouts and gay Scout leaders fosters a culture of discrimination in the boy scouts that runs counter to Scouting values. Bourke started a petition on Change.org, signed by more than 64,000 people, urging United Way chapters to stop funding the BSA until the organization ends its anti-gay ban.