Gay boy scouts, scout leaders make final plea to Boy Scouts of America
Dallas Examiner | 6/3/2013, 10:18 a.m.
“It is time for the BSA to stop fostering a climate where bullying, homophobia and discrimination can fester,” Bourke said. “My question is how many more years will I have to wait for the BSA to ends its discrimination against gay youth and adults and adopts a policy of full non-discrimination?”
And openly-gay Eagle Scout, Will Oliver, spoke about how growing up in Scouting was an amazing experience for him, and how he wants the Boy Scouts – an organization that he loves and respects – to step up to the plate and end a policy that teaches intolerance and discrimination. Oliver started a petition on Change.org signed by more than 120,000, urging the National Geographic Channel – a strategic media partner of the BSA – to condemn the Scouts’ anti-gay policy.
“As an organization, the Boy Scouts can do better. There are further measures we can take to ensure support for our country’s youth and to create diverse Scouting communities that welcome children of all backgrounds,” Oliver said. “We can’t afford to be silent about things that matter – and surely, few things matter more than providing equal support for all our country’s youth.”
These gay Scouts and gay Scout leaders were joined by representatives from GLAAD and Scouts for Equality, who have been working with Change.org petition starters over the past year to challenge the Scouts’ anti-gay policy.
Scouts for Equality founder Zach Wahls, who himself started two Change.org petitions that convinced corporations UPS and Intel to stop donating to the BSA because of their anti-gay policy, spoke about the historic moment facing the scouts. Wahls is a straight Eagle Scout, but he was raised by two lesbian moms who were active in helping him pursue Scouting.
“At the end of the day, this entire conversation comes down to one of the core values of leadership that is so often discussed but so difficult to actually execute: treating others the way we want to be treated. There is nothing Scout-like about exclusion of other people,” Wahls said at today’s event. “Tomorrow’s vote gives the BSA an opportunity to light a new path forward into the twenty-first century. We hope to see them on the other side.”
GLAAD, which originally helped Jennifer Tyrrell launch her Change.org petition last April, has worked for more than a year to show how the majority of Americans want the Boy Scouts to be an inclusive organization for all.
“Today there are more than 1.8 million signatures on Change.org petitions calling for an end to the ban. Yesterday the so-called Alliance Defending Freedom delivered 19,000 in favor of keeping the ban. 1.8M … 19,000. You do the math,” said Rich Ferraro, GLAAD's Vice President of Communications. “Because of Change.org, Jennifer Tyrrell and other brave individuals have been able to organize in a way that has changed our culture.”
On May 24, over 1,400 members met in Grapevine to vote on whether or not to implement these changes. The group passed a resolution to allow gay boys to participate in the BSA. However, it voted against allowing gay leaders.