Tag Archives: BSA

Boy Scouts oust scoutmaster who came out on NBC News

The nation’s largest gay civil rights group is calling on the Boy Scouts of America to end its longstanding discriminatory ban on gay adults in Scouting after BSA leaders revoked the membership of an openly gay scoutmaster in Washington state when he came out in an NBC News profile.

Geoff McGrath, 49, leader of Troop 98 in Seattle’s Rainier Beach neighborhood, is believed to be the first gay adult to have his membership in the Boy Scouts of America revoked since last May’s controversial vote by the BSA to allow gay youth — but not adults — to participate in the organization.

McGrath was being profiled by NBC News. BSA leaders said he was “making an issue” out of his sexual orientation.

“Banning a caring scoutmaster who has dedicated his time and efforts to helping young men grow into adults of integrity is a moral outrage,” said Jeremy Pittman, deputy field director with the Human Rights Campaign and also an Eagle Scout. “Parents and adults of good moral character, regardless of sexual orientation, should be able to volunteer their time to mentor the next generation of Americans.”

The BSA sent a letter to McGrath that to the HRC sounded like the old defense of the now-defunct “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for gays in the U.S. militry. The letter said that if  “a volunteer makes an issue out of his or her sexual orientation – especially to the youth we serve –  then that volunteer is no longer eligible for to be a registered leader. That has been part of the adult leadership qualifications for many years.”

McGrath is not the first gay person to be ousted as a scoutmaster, but he is believed to be the first since the BSA’s new policy allowing gay boys to participate went into effect.

Two years ago, Jennifer Tyrrell launched an online petition calling on the Boy Scouts of America to end its national ban after she was ousted as her son’s den leader because she is a lesbian.

That campaign fueled a national drive that many people say helped sway the BSA leadership to change its policy for boys.

It also led a number of groups and companies to withdraw support from the BSA because of its continued discrimination.

HRC, meanwhile, has a new requirement in its corporate equality index. To receive a perfect score, companies have to “prohibit philanthropic giving to non-religious organizations that have a written policy of anti-gay discrimination, or permit its chapters, affiliates or troops to do so.”

Christian right furious over selection of Robert Gates to lead Boy Scouts

Religious-right leaders are incensed over the nomination of former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to serve as the next president of the Boy Scouts of America. If the BSA board approves his nomination, Gates will assume the two-year position in May 2014.

Gates was an Eagle Scout before he began his decades-long career in public service, which included leading the Central Intelligence Agency and Defense Department. He retired as defense secretary two years ago after serving under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

As defense secretary, Gates helped oversee the end of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy banning openly gay and lesbian military personnel.

The Scouts has faced its own issues with gays in its ranks. In a process guided by the national executive board, the BSA agreed in June to allow openly gay Scouts, but not gay Scouting leaders.

Christian-right leaders clearly disapprove of Gates for supporting President Barack Obama’s repeal of DADT. Most right-wing media outlets led their coverage of Gates’ selection, which was announced on Oct. 31, with reminders of the role he’d played in overturning the Pentagon’s discriminatory policy. Anti-gay religious websites expressed alarm that Gates would be sympathetic to the BSA’s new policy of allowing out gay youth to participate in Scouting.

A columnist for the fundamentalist Christian website worldmag.com called Gates’ selection a “fruit-basket-turnover” and complained that BSA spokesman Deron Smith declined to answer his questions about the choice.

“When I emailed Smith more than a dozen questions related to this surprise move and its possible relationship to the new policy allowing homosexuals to participate in Scouting, he answered, ‘The BSA just completed a review of its membership policies and there are no plans to discuss it further,’” World writer Warren Cole Smith wrote angrily in his column Signs and Wonders.

Gay-rights groups, on the other hand, praised Gates’ appointment and called on him to push BSA a step further and allow gay leaders and adult volunteers.

“Millions of people and national corporations have called on the Boy Scouts to put an end to discrimination once and for all,” GLAAD spokesman Wilson Cruz said. “We urge Dr. Gates to continue his work to ensure all people are treated equally, no matter who they are and no matter what uniform they wear.”

Gates has previously recalled his time in Scouting fondly, saying in a 2010 speech that earning his Eagle Scout badge “was the first thing I had done that told me I might be different because I had worked harder, was more determined, more goal-oriented, more persistent than most others.”

“At a time when many American young people are turning into couch potatoes, and too often much worse, Scouting continues to challenge boys and young men, preparing you for leadership,” Gates said, according to a transcript of his remarks posted by the Department of Defense.

Boy Scouts of America to allow gay boys as members

The Boy Scouts of America’s national council today (May 23) voted to end the organization’s longstanding ban against gay youth.

The resolution, however, does not lift the ban against gay adults who want to volunteer to serve in leadership posts.

The resolution approved on the last day of the council’s three-day meeting with a vote of about 60 percent reads, in part, “no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone.”

Rich Ferraro of GLAAD, an organization that has campaigned hard the past year to strike down the ban, said, “Today’s vote is a significant victory for gay youth across the nation and a clear indication that the Boy Scouts’ ban on gay adult leaders will also inevitably end. The Boy Scouts of America heard from religious leaders, corporate sponsors and so many Scouting families who want an end to discrimination against gay people, and GLAAD will continue this work with those committed to equality in Scouting until gay parents and adults are able to participate.”

At the Family Equality Council, which represents millions of LGBT families, Steve Majors said, “Every Boy Scout, on their honor, first pledges to do their best. This is a step in the right direction, but it’s not the best the Boy Scouts can do. The Boy Scouts of America have sent a hurtful message to Scouts with LGBT parents that their moms and dads are not welcome as leaders alongside other parents. As a father of two girl scouts and the proud partner of an Eagle Scout, I know that Scouting has a long tradition of being a family activity and the Boy Scouts should be open to all our families.”

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, responded to the vote saying, “Today is a historic day for Boy Scouts across the country who want to be a part of this great American institution. But the new policy doesn’t go far enough. Parents and adults of good moral character, regardless of sexual orientation, should be able to volunteer their time to mentor the next generation of Americans.”

Zach Wahls, the executive director of Scouts for Equality and an Eagle Scout, stated in a news release, “We welcome the news that the ban on gay Scouts is history, but our work isn’t over until we honor the Scout Law by making this American institution open and affirming to all.”

HRC also raised concerns that the new policy, which would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2014, does not deal with employment discrimination.

The Boy Scouts’ job application explicitly states, “The Boy Scouts of America will not employ atheists, agnostics, known or avowed homosexuals.”

LGBT civil rights supporters, who had urged the Boy Scouts to fully eliminate the gay ban, found support among a number of other civil rights groups, as well as business and political leaders, labor officials and health professionals, educators and parents. The latest poll shows that about 63 percent of Americans support lifting the ban.

But there also has been widespread opposition to a change in policy, especially on the political right and in conservative religious circles.

About 70 percent of local Scouting groups are sponsored or associated with religious organizations or institutions and a number threatened to abandon Scouting if the prohibition against gay adults was lifted.

Some religious groups also have threatened to abandon Scouting over the policy allowing gay youth.

On the Web…


For the record…

The Boy Scouts of America’s statement on the policy:

“For 103 years, the Boy Scouts of America has been a part of the fabric of this nation, with a focus on working together to deliver the nation’s foremost youth program of character development and values-based leadership training.

“Based on growing input from within the Scouting family, the BSA leadership chose to conduct an additional review of the organization’s long-standing membership policy and its impact on Scouting’s mission. This review created an outpouring of feedback from the Scouting family and the American public, from both those who agree with the current policy and those who support a change.

“Today, following this review, the most comprehensive listening exercise in Scouting’s history the approximate 1,400 voting members of the Boy Scouts of America’s National Council approved a resolution to remove the restriction denying membership to youth on the basis of sexual orientation alone. The resolution also reinforces that Scouting is a youth program, and any sexual conduct, whether heterosexual or homosexual, by youth of Scouting age is contrary to the virtues of Scouting. A change to the current membership policy for adult leaders was not under consideration; thus, the policy for adults remains in place. The BSA thanks all the national voting members who participated in this process and vote.

“This policy change is effective Jan. 1, 2014, allowing the Boy Scouts of America the transition time needed to communicate and implement this policy to its approximately 116,000 Scouting units.

“The Boy Scouts of America will not sacrifice its mission, or the youth served by the movement, by allowing the organization to be consumed by a single, divisive, and unresolved societal issue. As the National Executive Committee just completed a lengthy review process, there are no plans for further review on this matter.

“While people have different opinions about this policy, we can all agree that kids are better off when they are in Scouting. Going forward, our Scouting family will continue to focus on reaching and serving youth in order to help them grow into good, strong citizens. America’s youth need Scouting, and by focusing on the goals that unite us, we can continue to accomplish incredible things for young people and the communities we serve.”

Boy Scouts to vote May 23 on lifting ban on gay youth

The Boy Scouts of America continues to scout for compromise on its long-standing policy against gays, but its draft policy – released in advance of a national meeting set for May 23 – didn’t earn any merit badge.

The BSA executive committee unveiled a proposed resolution to establish a non-discrimination policy and end the ban on gay Scouts. But the resolution does not call for an end to the ban on gay volunteers, including Scouting leaders, or job applicants.

“No youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone,” states the proposed policy, which would be applied nationwide. The proposal departs from a BSA recommendation introduced earlier this year that suggested the organization might allow local and regional Scout groups to decide for themselves whether to ban gay children and adults.

A fact sheet from the BSA explaining the current policy and the recommended reform states, “This proposal acknowledges changes in society while remaining true to Scouting’s mission and is reflective of how our major religious chartered organizations operate. Our vision is to serve every eligible youth in America, and this policy would allow us to serve more kids and focus on their development.”

The proposal leaves unanswered complaints about employment discrimination. The BSA’s current application for employment explicitly states that “the Boy Scouts of America will not employ atheists, agnostics, known or avowed homosexuals.”

The proposal also does not satisfy petitioners demanding that LGBT parents be allowed to serve as leaders of packs, dens and troops.

“It is good news that BSA leadership is open to ending the ban on gay Scouts, but this resolution must go further,” said Chad Griffin of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights group. “Parents and adults of good moral character, regardless of sexual orientation, should be able to volunteer their time to mentor the next generation of Americans. What message does this resolution send to the gay Eagle Scout who, as an adult, wants to continue a lifetime of Scouting by becoming a troop leader?”

Jennifer Tyrrell, the lesbian mom who was ousted as the leader of her son’s Scouting group, has become an activist for changing the policy. “The Boy Scouts are once again forcing me to look my children in the eyes and tell them that our family isn’t good enough,” she said. “My heart goes out to the young adults in Scouting who would be able to continue as Scouts if this is passed, but then be thrown out when they reach the age to become leaders.”

Meanwhile, on the right, there is widespread opposition to any change in membership requirements, with the exception of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which endorsed the policy change as a “thoughtful, good-faith effort to address issues.”

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council called the proposed change “incoherent. … The proposal says, in essence, that homosexuality is morally acceptable until a boy turns 18 – then, when he comes of age, he’s removed from the Scouts.”

About 1,400 BSA leaders are set to vote on the resolution at a national council meeting May 22–24 in Texas. The vote is set for May 23.

The Scouts maintain that its research, described as the most comprehensive listening exercise in BSA history, has found:

• Attitudes toward lesbian and gay relationships have changed rapidly in three years.

• Younger parents and teens tend to oppose the current policy.

• Parents in three out of four BSA regions oppose the membership policy.

If the executive committee’s proposed resolution is defeated, the current ban will remain in place. If the resolution is approved, it would take effect on Jan. 1, 2014.

Will Boy Scouts accept gay youth? Vote is imminent

With its ranks deeply divided, the Boy Scouts of America is asking its local leaders from across the country to decide whether its membership policy should be overhauled so that openly gay boys can participate in Scout units.

The proposal to be put before the roughly 1,400 voting members of the BSA’s National Council on Thursday, at a meeting in Grapevine, Texas, would retain the Scouts’ long-standing ban on gays serving in adult leadership positions.

Nonetheless, some conservatives within and outside the BSA community have denounced the proposal, saying the Scouts’ traditions would be undermined by the presence of openly gay youth. There have been warnings of mass defections if the ban is even partially lifted.

From the other flank, gay-rights supporters and some Scout leaders from politically liberal areas have welcomed the proposed change as a positive first step, but are calling on the BSA to go further and lift the ban on gay adults as well.

The Scouts’ national spokesman, Deron Smith, said the policy toward gays had become “the most complex and challenging issue” facing the BSA at a time when it is struggling to stem a steady drop in membership.

“Ultimately we can’t anticipate how people will vote but we do know that the result will not match everyone’s personal preference,” Smith said in an email.

In January, the BSA floated a plan to give sponsors of local Scout units the option of admitting gays as both youth members and adult leaders or continuing to exclude them. However, it changed course, in part because of surveys sent out starting in February to members of the Scouting community.

Of the more than 200,000 leaders, parents and youth members who responded, 61 percent supported the current policy of excluding gays, while 34 percent opposed it.

Those findings contrasted with a Washington Post-ABC News national poll earlier this month. It said 63 percent of respondents favored letting openly gay youth be Scouts, and 56 percent favored lifting the ban on gay adults.

Over the past several weeks, numerous public events have been staged by advocacy groups on different sides of the debate.

A group called Scouts for Equality has organized rallies in several cities aimed at urging local BSA councils to support an end to the ban on gay youth. Rallies opposing any easing of the ban, for youth or adults, have been organized by a group called OnMyHonor.net, which claims the pending proposal “requires open homosexuality in the Boy Scouts.”

Both groups plan to have their leaders and supporters on hand in Grapevine as the vote takes place.

Among those heading to Grapevine to lobby for an easing of the ban are Tracie Felker and her 16-year-old son, Pascal Tessier, who, though openly gay, is on track to become an Eagle Scout as a member of Boy Scout Troop 52 in Chevy Chase, Md.

“We are absolutely dedicated to restoring integrity to Boy Scouting and reinvigorating the program,” Felker said. “That can only be done by removing the stain of discrimination.”

Passions also run deep on the other side, as evidenced by a live online event titled “Stand With Scouts Sunday” presented May 5 by the conservative Family Research Council. The council opposes lifting the ban on gay youth, saying such a change “will dramatically alter the culture and moral landscape of America.”

Among the participants was Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who lauded the Scouts’ tradition of character-building.

“For pop culture to come in and try to tear that up because this happens to be the flavor of the month … that is just not appropriate,” Perry said. “Frankly I hope the American people stand up and say, `Not on my watch.'”

Also appearing on the webcast was Jeremy Miller, a Scout leader from Ohio who said the proposed change “will open the door to boy-on-boy sexual contact, bullying and older Scouts being predators on younger scouts.”

The BSA’s national leadership has rejected such warnings as ill-founded. “The BSA makes no connection between the sexual abuse or victimization of a child and homosexuality,” a new background document says. “The BSA takes strong exception to this assertion.”

Of the more than 100,000 Scouting units in the U.S., 70 percent are chartered by religious institutions. While these sponsors include liberal churches opposed to any ban on gays, some of the largest sponsors are relatively conservative denominations that have supported the broad ban – notably the Roman Catholic Church and Southern Baptist churches.

Knowing these churches oppose scouting roles for gay adults, the BSA leadership hopes they will be willing to back the easing of the ban on gay youth. As part of this effort, the BSA is emphasizing that sexual conduct by any Scout – straight or gay – would be considered unacceptable.

“We are unaware of any major religious chartered organization that believes a youth member simply stating he or she is attracted to the same sex, but not engaging in sexual activity, should make him or her unwelcome in their congregation,” the Scouts say in their new background document.

Southern Baptist leaders were outspoken earlier this year in opposing the tentative plan to let Scout units decide for themselves if they wanted to accept gays as adult leaders.

Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, said the new proposal “is more acceptable to those who hold a biblical form of morality,” but he nonetheless favors its defeat.

“A No vote keeps the current policy in place, an outcome we would overwhelmingly support,” Page told Baptist Press, the SBC’s official news agency.

Baptist Press reported that the Roswell Street Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga., was considering ending a nearly 75-year sponsorship of a Boy Scout troop if the policy change prevails. The church’s senior pastor, Ernest Easley, echoed warnings from other Southern Baptist leaders that any BSA accommodation of gays might prompt defections and trigger an expansion of the SBC’s own youth group for boys, the Royal Ambassadors. According to BSA figures, Baptist churches sponsor Scout units with about 108,000 youth members.

Leaders of some smaller conservative denominations – including the Assemblies of God and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod – have signed a statement opposing the proposal to accept gay youth.

Some larger sponsors have either endorsed the proposal, or – in the case of the United Methodist Church and Catholic Church – declined to specify a position. The National Catholic Committee on Scouting issued a statement describing the membership debate as “difficult and sensitive” but stopping short of any explicit recommendation for how Catholic delegates to the BSA meeting should vote.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced in April that it supports the new proposal, saying the BSA made a good-faith effort to address a complex issue. The Mormons sponsor more Scout units than any other organization, serving about 430,000 of the 2.6 million youth in Scouting.

The United Methodists are the second-largest sponsor, serving about 363,000 youth members; the Catholic Church is No. 3, with a youth membership of about 273,000.

Several regional Scout councils already have declared their position on the membership proposal.

In Tennessee, the Nashville-based Middle Tennessee Council and Jackson-based West Tennessee Area Council said they oppose the proposed change and support the current broad ban on gay youth and adults.

“We are continuing to uphold the standards, beliefs and traditions Scouting has held for over 100 years,” said Lee Beaman, board president of the Middle Tennessee Council, which says it serves 35,000 youth and adults.

The day after that announcement, Bill Moser, a longtime Scout leader in Clarksville, Tenn., announced his resignation, saying he couldn’t support a policy that would force openly gay youth out of Scouting when they turned 18.

The Greater New York Councils, which serve about 43,000 Scouts in New York City, is supporting the proposal to accept gay youths, calling it “a positive step forward.” It is among the councils urging the Scouts to also accept gays as adult leaders.

The Los Angeles Area Council said it follows a nondiscrimination policy that extends to sexual orientation and it proposed that the BSA adopt a similar policy nationwide, opening its ranks to openly gay adults as well as youth.

However, the BSA leadership says no such alternative proposals will be put to a vote at the Grapevine meeting – only the single proposal to lift the ban on gay youth.

If the proposal is approved, the new policy would take effect on Jan. 1, 2014. A task force already has been created to oversee its implementation.

On the Web…


An open letter to Gov. Scout Walker from an Eagle Scout

Gov. Scott Walker refuses to weigh in on whether gays should be allowed in the Boy Scouts of America.

Walker was asked about the issue on Feb. 7 following a speech at an economic development conference. Walker obtained the Boy Scouts’ highest rank of Eagle Scout.

Boy Scout of America officials reviewed their anti-gay ban at a board meeting on Wednesday and decided to postpone any action on the issue until May. Eagle Scouts in Wisconsin have been asking the governor to take a stand for equality. Walker has had numerous gays and lesbians work for him over the years, including two close associates who were indicted on criminal charges stemming from a probe of his administration when he served as Milwaukee County Executive. 

The following is an open letter to the governor from a fellow Eagle Scout:

Dear Gov. Walker,

As you no doubt are aware, the Boy Scouts of America is currently revisiting its policy banning gay men and women from participating in the organization. The BSA is under considerable pressure from both sides of this issue to define its position. No matter what the BSA decides, the positions of prominent Eagle Scouts like you will be just as important in the public eye. 

I believe that you and the Boy Scouts of America have a clear direction to take: Gays should be given as much respect by the organization as heterosexuals. Boys should be allowed to join the Scouts regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation or any other inherent characteristic that differs from the majority. Boys should not fear being punished or thrown out because they’re gay.

Generations of families have trusted the Scouts to help guide their sons into becoming honorable men. Besides me, there are three Eagle Scouts in my family, and plenty more among my friends. I have witnessed the effect that the organization has on people, and I believe it’s overwhelmingly positive. Except that, it’s wrong on this issue.

Because something might seem uncomfortable or scary to many is not a good enough reason to maintain a position that discriminates against a few. Preventing sexual misconduct is absolutely a worthy goal, and the Boy Scouts have developed a strict and enforceable system of youth protection.  As I’m sure you know, gay members will continue to follow the same moral code that straight people follow. 

A number of my friends within and outside of the Scouts are gay. They are funny, decent, strange and thoughtful people. They are as petty, as impatient, as know-it-all as anyone else. They are as curious, determined and varied as any of my straight friends. They are thoroughly relatable. They are as capable of following the Scout law as they are of breaking it. And it’s that sense of normalcy and commonality that comes to mind when I think about this issue.

The only thing that prevents gays from being “morally straight” is the Boy Scout’s insistence on embracing that particular reading of the phrase. The only thing keeping gays from being a normal part of the Boy Scout culture is the Boy Scouts.

I hope that you will stand publicly on the side of social justice and use your position as a governor and an Eagle Scout to promote the acceptance of gays within this honored institution.


Teddy Monacelli, Milwaukee

On their honor? | Scouts drag boots on anti-gay ban

On their honor, leaders of the Boy Scouts of America said they may replace an outright ban on gay scouts and troops with a policy allowing individual councils and troops to set their own membership rules.

A vote was hoped for on Feb. 6, the last day the BSA’s national executive board was meeting in Irving, Texas. 

But early on Feb. 6, after two weeks of frenzied lobbying on the issue, the BSA said the outpouring of opinion proves how deeply people care. And that, along with the “complexity of this issue,” led the board to delay a decision so leaders can collect additional perspectives and draft a resolution to be decided not by the board,  but by a 1,400 member national council in May.

LGBT civil rights leaders still relishing a year of unprecedented victories heralded news that the iconic youth group might lift the ban, but showed disappointment with the delay.

“Every day that the Boy Scouts of America delay action is another day that discrimination prevails,” said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign. “Now is the time for action. Young Americans, gay and straight, are hurt by the inaction associated with (Feb. 6’s) news.”

Jennifer Tyrrell, the lesbian mother of a Cub Scout who launched a national petition drive after she was ousted as a troop leader, said, “A Scout is supposed to be brave, and the Boy Scouts failed to be brave today.”

On the other side of the issue, ultra-conservatives said Scouting seemed to be caving into liberal bullies, and they seemed buoyed by the delay.

The BSA, in the past, has pointed to the Scout Oath and Scout Law in defense of its ban. With the oath, Scouts pledge, “On my honor I will do my best/To do my duty to God and my country/and to obey the Scout Law;/To help other people at all times;/To keep myself physically strong,/mentally awake, and morally straight.” The organization has long interpreted “morally straight” to mean heterosexual. 

Pressure to overturn the ban has come, in waves, for more than two decades.

In a landmark fight, Lambda Legal, on behalf of Eagle Scout James Dale, sued the BSA and a Scouting Council in New Jersey after the Scouts barred Dale from serving as an assistant troop leader because he is gay. Lambda argued Dale’s case all the way to the Supreme Court, which, in 2000, issued a 5-4 decision that the BSA is a private group with a constitutional right of expressive association that allows it to exclude gay people.

After the ruling, a number of public institutions and other organizations severed relations with the Scouts citing conflict with their non-discrimination policies.

In the past year, several petition drives on Change.org, including the one by Tyrrell, urged the Scouts to overturn the ban and called on political and corporate partners to withdraw support from the group. More than 1.4 million people petitioned the Boy Scouts in the past year.

Most recently, a drive collected more than 100,000 signatures protesting the National Geographic Channel’s decision to proceed with a TV show done in partnership with the BSA. Petitioners asked how Scouting can be the in-thing with an antiquated, biased policy that 55 percent of Americans oppose.

In late January, the BSA said it was “discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation. This would mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation, and the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with each organization’s mission, principles or religious beliefs. BSA members and parents would be able to choose a local unit that best meets the needs of their families.”

With the board meeting set for early February, there was anticipation change would come quickly.

Proponents and opponents of the ban organized, bombarding the BSA’s service desk and its social media accounts with calls, texts and posts.

The right-wing Family Research Council urged its members to protest, saying that the BSA, until now, has withstood the “constant bullying by those who work to bring down all that the millions of dedicated Scouts and Scout leaders stand for.”

The American Family Association, in its call to action, said, “If the BSA departs from its policies on allowing homosexual scoutmasters and boys in the program, it will destroy the legitimacy and the security of this iconic institution.”

Meanwhile, opponents of the ban predicted positives for the BSA with a policy change.

GLAAD president Herndon Graddick said, “Scouting is a valuable institution and this change will only strengthen its core principles of fairness and respect.”

Zach Wahls, the Eagle Scout and founder of Scouts for Equality who is the keynote speaker at a Fair Wisconsin Education Fund event Feb. 9, criticized the delay but also said lifting the ban would be “an incredible step forward in the right direction.”

Others opposed to the ban noted that the Girl Scouts of America and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

“Our fight will continue,” Tyrrell pledged, on her honor.

Delay in decision on Scouts’ gay ban

The Boy Scouts of America’s national executive board, which is meeting today (Feb. 6) in Texas, has delayed a decision on whether to lift its longstanding ban on gay scouts and leaders.

The BSA will take action on the resolution at its national meeting in May.

In a statement posted on its Facebook page, the BSA said, “For 103 years, the Boy Scouts of America has been a part of the fabric of this nation, providing it’s youth program of character development and values-based leadership training. In the past two weeks, Scouting has received an outpouring of feedback from the American public. It reinforces how deeply people care about Scouting and how passionate they are about the organization. 

“After careful consideration and extensive dialogue within the Scouting family, along with comments from those outside the organization, the volunteer officers of the Boy Scouts of America’s National Executive Board concluded that due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a more deliberate review of its membership policy. 

“To that end, the National Executive Board directed its committees to further engage representatives of Scouting’s membership and listen to their perspectives and concerns. This will assist the officers’ work on a resolution on membership standards. The approximately 1,400 voting members of the National Council will take action on the resolution at the National Annual Meeting in May 2013.”

The organization said last week it was considering a shift of its policy, which has led officials to remove gay leaders and scouts. That announcement pushed years of debate over the policy to an even higher level.

President Barack Obama – Scouting’s honorary president – spoke in favor of letting gay scouts in. Others opposed a shift.

Protesters on both sides rallied at BSA headquarters in Irving, outside Dallas.

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights group, wants the Scouts to lift the ban but not allow individual councils or troops to set membership policies.

HRC says Boy Scouts’ proposal not good enough

The nation’s largest gay civil rights group on Feb. 4 took out a full-page ad in the Dallas Morning News calling on the Boy Scouts of America to drop its ban against gays.

Meanwhile, a coalition of right-wing groups purchased a USA Today ad calling for a continuance of the ban by BSA, which is headquartered in the Dallas area and is holding a national board meeting this week.

In its ad, the Human Rights Campaign, a Washington-based LGBT civil rights group, urges the BSA to completely eliminate its ban. The policy the BSA said it was considering this week would remove a national barrier to gay scouts and troop leaders and allow local organizations to make decisions about membership.

HRC communications vice president Fred Sainz said, “While the proposed change is a step in the right direction, we can’t pretend that passing the buck to the local level will eliminate anti-gay discrimination because it won’t. Generations of gay Americans have been told they’re not good enough to join the Scouts, simply because of who they are. BSA has an opportunity to change that this week by adopting a non-discrimination policy. Scouting, which has played an important role in American society, will be strengthened by that action.”

The ad encourages readers to call on the BSA board to adopt a national anti-discrimination policy.

The ad against a policy change calls on the BSA to “Show courage. Stand firm for timeless values” and said lifting the ban would be a “grave mistake” and a threat to religious liberty.

The ad suggests that the BSA is caving into pressure out of fear for lost funding and asked, “How will parents be able to entrust their children to the Boy Scouts if they trade the well-being of the boys for corporate dollars?”

The groups that signed the ad include Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays, the Liberty Council, Texas Values, the American Family Association, Illinois Family Institute, Wisconsin Family Action, Concerned Women for America, Family Research Council and The Family Leader.



Right uses fear in push for Boy Scouts to keep ban against gays

The Boy Scouts of America’s national office and social media sites have been swamped with calls for and against the youth group lifting its ban against gay scouts and troop leaders.

The messaging follows the BSA’s announcement that the policy is again under review. The ban could be lifted as early as next week, when a national meeting takes place.

The BSA is receiving calls at its national service desk, 972-580-2330, as well as receiving posts on its Facebook page.

There’s also been many messages delivered via press release and in the news, especially by LGBT civil rights leaders supporting an end to the ban and right-wing leaders who support continuing the prohibition.

Responding to the BSA announcement, Herndon Graddick, the president of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, said, “The Boy Scouts of America have heard from scouts, corporations and millions of Americans that discriminating against gay scouts and scout leaders is wrong. Scouting is a valuable institution and this change will only strengthen its core principles of fairness and respect.”

GLAAD has worked with petitioners through Change.org to persuade BSA officials, as well as companies that have supported the scouts, that the policy must change.

GLAAD partner Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout and founder of Scouts for Equality who will be a keynote speaker at a Fair Wisconsin Education Fund event in February, said earlier this week that if the Scouts lift the ban it “would be an incredible step forward in the right direction. We look forward to working with BSA Councils and chartering organizations across the country to end the exclusion of our gay brothers in Scouting, as well as the gay and lesbian leaders who serve the organizations so well.”

Meanwhile, right-wing leaders are rallying their supporters to urge the Boy Scouts to stand by the ban, which the group has gone all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to defend.

Peter LaBarbera of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality accused the BSA of promoting “deviant sexuality among the boys” and “capitulating to immorality.”

Southern Baptist Convention vice president Sing Oldham said many Baptist churches will cease to host scouting groups and instead may create an alternative group for youths.

The Family Research Council, in its call to action to members, said the BSA, until now, has withstood “the constant bullying by those who work to bring down all that the millions of dedicated Scouts and Scout leaders stand for.”

The American Family Association, in another call to action sent to members, said, “If the BSA departs from its policies on allowing homosexual scoutmasters and boys in the program, it will destroy the legitimacy and the security of this iconic institution.”

Meanwhile, the AFA’s Bryan Fischer tweeted, “Jerry Sandusky is now the poster boy for the Boy Scouts of America.”

For the record…

The BSA statement released earlier this week:

“Currently, the BSA is discussing potentially removing the national membership restriction regarding sexual orientation. This would mean there would no longer be any national policy regarding sexual orientation, and the chartered organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting would accept membership and select leaders consistent with each organization’s mission, principles or religious beliefs. BSA members and parents would be able to choose a local unit that best meets the needs of their families.

“The policy change under discussion would allow the religious, civic, or educational organizations that oversee and deliver Scouting to determine how to address this issue. The Boy Scouts would not, under any circumstances, dictate a position to units, members or parents. Under this proposed policy, the BSA would not require any chartered organization to act in ways inconsistent with that organization’s mission, principles, or religious beliefs.”