Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T and an executive board member with the Boy Scouts of America, wants the nonprofit to lift its ban against gay members and leaders.
The Dallas Voice reports that Stephenson is joining Ernst & Young CEO James Turley, also a BSA board member, in opposing the controversial policy.
But just today the BSA executive office announced it had concluded a secret two-year review and decided to affirm the ban. A spokesman for the BSA told The Associated Press that an 11-member confidential review board had concluded that the anti-gay policy is the best policy for the scouting organization.
“This is a missed opportunity of colossal proportions," said Chad Griffin of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest LGBT civil rights group. "With the country moving toward inclusion, the leaders of the Boy Scouts of America have instead sent a message to young people that only some of them are valued. These adults could have taught the next generation of leaders the value of respect, yet they’ve chosen to teach division and intolerance."
"The Boy Scouts of America decision to continue to exclude gays from membership is extremely disappointing and sends the message that gay youth are not fit to serve God and country," said R. Clarke Cooper, executive director of the Log Cabin Republicans and an eagle scout who served in his youth in Troop 23 in Tallahassee, Fla. "This is absolutely the wrong policy for the Boy Scouts."
The news of the BSA decision comes as Jennifer Tyrrell, a lesbian mom from Bridgeport, Ohio, prepared to deliver petitions challenging the ban to the BSA headquarters in Dallas on July 18.
The BSA ousted Tyrrell as a den leader because of the ban, which has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court but opposed by scouts, parents, educators, politicians, executives and legal experts. The anti-gay ban has led a number of public entities to evict or remove the BSA for violating non-discrimination policies.
Tyrrell, after her ouster, launched a petition on Change.org that now has more than 300,000 signatures.
Her petition led Turley to announce his opposition to the ban in June and encouraged Stephenson’s stand this month.
“ This is a huge new development and could mean that the Boy Scouts are preparing to end this anti-gay policy sooner rather than later,” Tyrrell said through Change.org before the BSA affirmed the ban. “I’m very impressed with Mr. Stephenson’s leadership and his new commitment to helping the Boy Scouts stop discriminating, a position that is totally consistent with AT&T’s record as a champion of fairness and equality in the workplace.”
Tyrrell also has received support from celebrities, including Julianne Moore, Benicio Del Toro, Josh Hutcherson and Ricky Martin.
Earlier this year, she received an award from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.