Today the Boy Scouts of America Executive Committee proposed a resolution that would establish a nondiscrimination policy ending the longstanding discriminatory ban on gay Scouts, while keeping discriminatory practices in place for gay and lesbian parents, Scout leaders, and in employment.
The resolution, which proposes a policy that, “no youth may be denied membership in the Boy Scouts of America on the basis of sexual orientation or preference alone,” is national in scope, as opposed to a previous approach that would have allowed local sponsoring organizations to make their own decisions. The resolution will face a vote by 1,400 leaders of the Boy Scouts of America during the National Council Meeting, May 22-24.
“It is good news that BSA leadership is open to ending the ban on gay Scouts, but this resolution must go further,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin.
“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?”
Unanswered in today’s resolution is the issue of employment discrimination by BSA. Currently, the BSA job application for “professional commission” explicitly says gays need not apply. The application, which comes from the BSA’s national office and appears to be in use across the country, reads: “The Boy Scouts of America will not employ atheists, agnostics, known or avowed homosexuals.” The full application can be viewed here.
In anticipation of a resolution, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization, launched a petition asking its 1.5 million members and supporters, and in particular those who are a part of the scouting family, to call on their local Boy Scouts of America council to vote in favor of a national policy prohibiting discrimination against gay Scouts, parents, and Scout Leaders. HRC’s petition will generate messages to those local council representatives, so they can hear directly how the ban harms members of their own community.
HRC’s recent survey of LGBT youth reinforces the need to remove obstacles to full participation in extracurricular activities like the Boy Scouts: 64% of LGBT teens (compared to just 47% of non-LGBT teens) report that they never participate in afterschool or other recreational activities. Exclusion from Scouting negatively impacts the overall well-being and sense of community connection among LGBT youth.
In April 2012, Ohio mom Jennifer Tyrrell launched a Change.org petition calling on the Boy Scouts of America to end its national ban on gay scouts, parents, and scout leaders after she was ousted as her son’s den leader because she is gay. She sparked a campaign led by GLAAD and Scouts for Equality to advocate for an inclusive BSA, which has resulted in several corporate sponsors withholding funds as well as hundreds of celebrities, elected officials, scouts and religious institutions speaking out against the ban. In February of this year, GLAAD and Scouts for Equality delivered more than 1.4 million Change.org signatures to BSA headquarters with gay scouts and scouting families impacted by the ban.
Sign HRC’s petition at: www.hrc.org/BSA.